Finding the time to write and train journeys

Lovely writing view

I reckon I don’t get much time to write, what with work and the wife and the gardening etc it’s very, very difficult to get anything done. This is particularly true as I now spend half my life and nearly every free moment looking at tweets and blogs and trying to figure out what this whole ‘social media revolution’ thing is all about.

Let’s be clear here. I’ve been afraid of social media since I first learned of it’s existence. I have friends who routinely facebook and tweet and pintrest (or whatever it’s called) all the time. I’ve remained steadfastly against such practice as, essentially, I’m shy (ahhhh, you all say).

Well all of that changed about a week ago when I realised that it wasn’t that bad after all. I’ve learned much from twittering and blogging etc and whilst I haven’t gotten around to the whole facebooky thing yet, it doesn’t hold quite the terror that it used to.

So anyway- time is a big issue and one of the ways I’ve found to get around the problem is to better utilise (arrgh, the American spell checker tells me I’ve made a spelling mistake yet again, please forgive me if reading this in America- I know there’s at least one of you from checking the stats page on wordpress!- but I plan to use English spelling as I am in the UK) the time that is available to me.

Along with what seems to be the whole world at the moment, I am currently writing a book. It might surprise you to learn that 20% of the writing so far has taken place on the train. So here’s how the story goes:-

– Get up in the morning for early train to London or wherever. Pack ASUS eeePad (it’s a bit like an iPad but has a proper ‘chicklet’ keyboard- really rather brill- google it) and get off to the station. Get on train like zombie that you are in the morning (arrgh, it’s cold, arrgh it’s raining, arrgh I hate getting up early, arrgh where did all these people come from?). 

– Sit on train with eeePad perched on naff plastic tray that you’ve pulled down from the seatback infront of you. If lucky get window seat. If unlucky get aisle seat and prepare to have elbow banged into by every bugger that needs to get on or off, or go get a sandwic,h or go to the toilet etc etc.

– If really lucky spend entire journey on your own. Two seats just for me, hurrah! If unlucky (which is far more likely, this being the UK after all – there are a heck of a lot of people packed into a very small space here), spend the entire journey sat next to either:-

a) a very large matronly lady who actually needs three seats for her ample buttocks and spends the entire journey eating boiled sweets and breathing so heavily you think she may expire at any moment.


b) a man the size of a haystack with a cold so bad you suspect he should be using a towel rather than a handkerchief- oh my god he’s making squelching sounds with is nose, blurrgh.

– Keep elbows in and lean forward intently whilst you write scenes from your little novel. Make sure you keep the screen angled toward you though (which is bloody difficult when you’re in the aisle seat….) as you don’t want matron or fat sickly man to know how bad your writing is (you imagine them standing and addressing the whole carriage- ‘oh my god, this is so funny, this guy thinks he can write. Yeah this one- right here, haha,’ everyone in the carriage roars with laughter and points at you, ‘he thinks he’s an author, all of you, look, he thinks he’s gonna be a proper writer!’

– Not put off by the laughter and pointing, continue writing for the whole journey. Get back ache and hand cramps (oh the pain…) but continue because you have to, you just have to get the damned book finished…

– Get to destination. Go to meeting. Spend whole meeting thinking about plot ideas and character profiles and story arcs. Pretend you’re paying attention when the Chair of the meeting looks at you (amazing how much you can get away with by nodding and giving the occasional ‘yes’ or ‘I agree’).

– Finish meeting, get back on train and write some more. Write like your life depended on it.

– Check word count at end of day (because for some ridiculous reason this is important to you- as if quantity makes up for quality…..) and discover you have written over 3,000 words in four hours.

The trick here? Having absolutely nothing else in the world to do. No internet. No twitter. No Blog. It’s a bit like the computer program ‘write or die’ in that you’re forced to concentrate on the task at hand- what else is there to do on a train in any case?

Newbie’s tip for the day; I use two programs for my writing at the moment:-

1) Evernote, which is great for making quick notes for plot, storyline or character (yes, occasionally in the middle of meeting- they’re never gonna figure it out, hehe) and syncing across all devices. I also use Evernote for my train (and other places!) writing as I can be sure the work is stored safely in the cloud and will be available on my desktop when I get home.

2) Scrivener, which is a program that allows you to break your novel into scenes, store character profiles and plot information- the list is endless. I bought it after a 30 day trial recently and I would recommend to anyone who is serious about writing, it makes the job so much easier (gonna write a review of Scrivener at some stage in the future).

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Adios for now


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