Make the Most of Your Time: Writing on the Go to Stoke Your Productivity

One of the biggest complaints I hear from writers is that they don’t have enough time to complete a project.

This is understandable. Many writers have day jobs, families, friends, not to mention other responsibilities and hobbies. Unless you’re a professional writer, you may not have the consistent ability to write for hours at a time.

Still, we all have sips of time throughout the day. Your commute to work. Your lunch break. The wait at the doctor’s office.

Sure, you could use these sips of time to check Facebook and Instagram [AGAIN], but why read the same twenty Buzzfeed articles you saw yesterday?

Image source: Giphy.

Image source: Giphy.

Even if you write for five minutes while waiting for a friend to meet you for dinner, you’re still engaging the creative centers of your brain, and you’re still being productive, giving even fractions of ideas the momentum they need to emerge on paper.

Writing on the go can reduce self-consciousness.

Writing in public is a great way to make your writing practice less self-consciousness. All writers have their preferred writing nook, of course, but great writers can (and do!) write wherever they can. 

The need to cancel out all distractions becomes that much more challenging when you’re surrounded by stimuli, and you’ll learn to focus on the task at hand. To wit, if you can write on an airport barstool during a layover, then you can write anywhere.

(Bonus: if you get stuck on an idea while writing in public, it’s usually nothing a good minute of people watching can’t fix.) 

Photo credit: Jessica Hatch, 2016.

Photo credit: Jessica Hatch, 2016.

How do I get started?

All you need is a notebook and a pen, or even the Notes app on your phone. Then, during a sip of time, break out your instruments and write whatever you feel.

The Notes app may come in handy if you’re working on a novel or short story. By typing instead of writing, you won’t need to transpose handwritten text later. (I’ll get into the media-based benefits of writing longhand, too, but that’s a post for another day.)

Don’t have a short story or a novel to work on? Why not try journaling? Journal writing can help you identify and process the events and emotions of the day, which may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and can serve as a palate cleanser before you work on any creative writing. Much like Dumbledore with his Pensieve, I like to pour my thoughts into a journal before I get to the meat of my writing session.

Image source: HarryPotterFans4Eva Wiki.

Image source: HarryPotterFans4Eva Wiki.

Besides accounts of your day, notebooks can be great for taking down story ideas, outlining a new essay… heck, if you're stuck in that airport bar, you could even practice lyrical description by jotting down the flavor profile of a beer or whiskey.

If none of this appeals to you, the internet is chock full of great free writing prompts. Two sources that I swear by:

  1. Playwright and author Diane Samuels tweets thought-provoking prompts daily as @WritingBright.
  2. Author Eva Deverell has a treasure trove of prompts, toolkits, and writer worksheets to help you grow your writing practice.

Do you write on the go? What sort of writing do you get done during this time? How does it differ from the writing you do at home?