Whether you are travelling for leisure, visiting family, or as part of your job, writing during this time can be challenging. Even if you would prefer not to write on your trip, certain situations might deem it necessary. This post offers my 5 tips for writing productivity when travelling.
Tip #1: Define Your Goal
Before you set off for your trip, you should define your overall writing goal. Perhaps you need to make progress on a dissertation chapter, write a conference paper, or edit a journal article?
Once you have your writing goal, break down this goal into actionable tasks. For more information on how to do this, check out my post on completing challenging tasks. If your writing goal is to make progress on a piece of writing, check out my post on measuring writing productivity to help you define your goal and tasks.
Creating actionable tasks will greatly assist you with the next tip.
Tip #2: Create a Schedule
Once you have defined your goal and generated a list of actionable tasks, it’s time to create a writing schedule. Writing schedules are a good practice in general and they are especially useful when travelling. They can help you:
- stay accountable
- be more realistic about what you can accomplish
- know when you are writing and when you aren’t
When creating your writing schedule it’s important to be honest with yourself and your personal situation. For example, if you have motion sickness, then trying to write on a bus or plane is probably unrealistic (I tend to brainstorm in my Moleskine during flights). Also, if you tend to be a morning writer, but only have time to write in the evenings during your trip, then you should scale down your writing goal or account for more time.
When travelling, I suggest carving out specific times to write. Even if you have daily word or page count goals, finding and setting times to write is crucial for executing realistic writing goals.
Tip #3: Communicate With Your People
Unless you are travelling by yourself for leisure, your travel probably incorporates other people. If you’re going on vacation, you might be with your partner or friend. If you’re visiting family, you probably will be spending time with them. If you’re travelling for work, you might have meetings or meetups with colleagues.
It’s important to communicate your writing goal and schedule with the people who are part of your travel plans. Blocking off time to write might be necessary for you, but it can also impact the people around you.
For example, in the last year of my doctoral program, I had to consistently write in order to finish my dissertation. In order to take vacations with my husband, I needed to write during our trip. Communicating my writing goals and schedule to him was crucial. It provided aligned expectations about our trip.
Furthermore, communicating with your people before your trip starts might mean adjusting your goals and schedules. That’s perfectly fine and will probably help manage expectations for all parties involved.
Tip #4: Prepare for No Internet
Whenever I plan to write when travelling, I prepare for no internet. This means downloading or printing any articles, saving web pages or emails detailing important information as PDFs, and packing a physical USB or hard-drive as an extra back-up to save work. Usually, I can access internet most places I go. However, if it isn’t there, I can still progress with my writing.
If you have to submit an application or document online when travelling, then definitely do some research or inquire about connectivity in your destination before you depart. A simple internet search, email, or phone call prior to the start of your trip can help alleviate frantic panic before a submission deadline.
Tip #5: Be Present
When you are scheduled to write, then write. When you’re not writing, enjoy your trip.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to get out of writing mode. There are times when I have finished writing for the day and I am out taking in a location with my husband, but I’m still clearly thinking about my writing. Even though I’m not writing, I am certainly not present.
Over the years, I have made a solid effort to be more present when I am travelling (and in my daily life). Does this mean that I don’t talk about what I am working on? Definitely not, as I am happy to share and discuss what I am writing. And yes, sometimes I need to vent a little.
However, as soon as I start dwelling on my work, I try to shift the conversation. Why? I want to be sure to enjoy the company I am with and the place I am visiting. While I have things I need to get done, it’s not just my trip and I aim to be a present travel companion.
My 5 tips for writing productivity while travelling are not quick and easy hacks. In fact, they can be challenging to consistently execute. For me, they took practice over several trips. They required a good amount of reflection and proactive personal effort. Especially the last tip – being present. I still slip up for time to time, but I know what I need to do to get back on track. Using these tips can help build positive and productive writing habits to have a well-balanced experience when travelling.
How do you handle writing productivity when travelling? Do you have any thoughts or tips you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!