Does it suck?
After two weeks of traveling (for about a week to Indiana and an unexpected one week escapade of moving to a new home in Chicago) I have concluded one thing:
Writing while traveling takes an extreme amount of self-control.
It’s interesting, because most sites and books that talk about taking control of your life and working from where ever you want are missing a little something.
Although sitting on the beach or whipping out your computer wherever you want sounds romantic and exciting, it is actually more difficult than waking up and sitting at a desk with a set routine.
I recently traveled to Bloomington, Indiana (where Indiana University is) and every year they have a bike race called the Little 500. Little 500 is a huge event, so popular that they made an Academy Award winning film called Breaking Away to show the dedication and raw work ethic that these bikers put into their preparation, while following a group of “townies” who break barriers to become the first non-student team to join and win the race.
After that, I planned to move from my apartment in Lincoln Park to Wrigleyville, to join some old grade-school friends in experiencing a true tradition of Chicago: Wrigleyville.
My plan was to write throughout the entire trip. Unfortunately, this was the first time since I tried writing while travleing, and needless to say it was difficult.
- Friends create distractions
- Internet access is limited
- Your mind is in a different place
When I arrived in Bloomington, my friends wanted to go to the bar. No writing. When I woke up they wanted to go out for breakfast or lunch or dinner. They would turn on a game or sit in my bedroom (their living room) and laugh and talk about what game was on TV.
During my move I told myself it would be a quick transaction and then I would get straight to writing. Unfortunately, that was almost impossible, since moving is the worst thing in the world and it will consume at least 24 hours minimum. It ended up taking about 5 days of my writing time.
- Day 1: Packing and talking to my old roommate about what things each of us would take, while cleaning up our apartment
- Day 2: Moving
- Day 3: Spending time with the people who helped me move
- Day 4: Organizing my things and setting up necessities such as cable and internet (Comcast customer support for about three hours)
- Day 5: Ok, I finally wrote on this day, but it wasn’t very productive (I’ll call this my recovery day)
Overall, it was a mess. I understand that people do this everyday, but for those who haven’t written while traveling or have encountered problems while doing so here are some things I learned:
Prepare for minimal internet
Yes, writing can be done offline, but when it comes to freelancing and posting on a blog you need to eventually send your work via email or publish a blog post. In this case you need to prepare for a lack of internet. Finding a coffee shop is often a viable option, however I have trouble concentrating with all the people walking around.
Also, when traveling, you are often in a car or not near a Starbucks. In this case, purchase a wireless internet card or application on your phone to maintain constant connection. I purchased an application called FoxFi that helped me send out some emails on the tail end of my trip. You can use a certain bandwidth for free and then you must purchase the full app for around $7. It works great and allows a writer to at least connect for sending emails.
Tell your friends or family you need to work
This was difficult for me because I wanted to take advantage of every moment I was spending with my friends down in Bloomington. Not to mention, they pushed me to come with them whenever I said no. The only time I had a chance to write some freelance blog posts was when I told them that I needed to work to make money. I think my exact words were, “When YOU take a vacation your company still pays you. When I take a vacation I don’t make anything.”
It’s an inconvenient truth, but freelance writers need to work even when they are on vacation. After I said this, they went to play a round of golf and left me alone for about five hours.
Writers might be the only professionals who need to lose sleep on vacation. During my second day of moving I squeezed out a couple hours of writing late at night. Yes I was tired. Yes my body was sore from moving unnaturally large objects, but I wish I had done that every other day of my trip.
The next day I woke up a little sore and tired, but I also felt great about myself. I had completed the work that I love and did it while facing adversity.
Writing is about facing adversity, and this adversity often comes disguised as comfort.
How have you managed to write while traveling? Let me know in the comments.