Monday, March 19, 2012

Have Manuscript, Will Travel

     I'm packing this week for a trip.
     Cold weather clothes, check.
     Hiking boots, check.
     Maps of northern Arizona, southern Utah, check.
     The trip will be a new experience for me; I won't have my family with me for much of it. Also, I won't be in true vacation mode since I'll be working at an animal sanctuary. But when I'm not walking dogs or cleaning cages, I'll be back in my rented room, working on a new manuscript.
     WIP, check.
     I'm not fooling myself this time. On previous trips, I've pack my laptop, notebooks (yes, multiple), writing pens, craft-related books and magazines, and the novel I was reading and another I hoped to read. After each of these trips, I came home to realize I haven't read those books. I haven't filled a fraction of pages I'd hope to with new writing. And my laptop was used more for Googling directions and making reservations than for crafting stories. The vacations were great, but not productive in terms of physical writing. My ambitions were too broad and unfocused.
     This time the expectations are simpler and more defined. Traveling with a manuscript means making a plan. I've found it hard to write new material when I'm away from home unless I give myself specific writing prompts to work on while I'm away. Here are a few examples of prompts I may work on:
  1. Write the scene where my MC meets her love interest for the first time.
  2. Describe the MC's style and her favorite outfit.
  3. Write a conversation the MC has with her best friend when she discovers she's been tricked.
  4. Write about an encounter the MC has with another passenger on the train.
     See what I mean?
     I'll also be collecting story props - brochures, post cards, train schedules, maps, etc - of things to help me visualize my characters and scenes. Back at home, these props sometimes offer more of a multi-dimensional sense of place than a journal entry. Last year I collected hand-painted notecards of the landscape, a menu from an historic hotel (a setting for my WIP), and a floor plan of a local art coop. How will these things help my story? Well, even if these details don't end up in the actual story, they trigger memories, the sights, smells, and sounds, of a particular place.
     This plan isn't overly-ambitious; it's broken into small , doable chunks. I'm pretty confident it will work for me.
     Writing plan, check.
     If you write while on vacation, how productive are you? What do you do to make the most of your writing time?

32 comments:

  1. I love those "doable chunks," and I'll bet you'll get them written. Great idea. Enjoy the sanctuary and bless you for being someone who cares enough to actually give your time to a cause.

    Thanks for stopping in at the Write Game. Your visit was really appreciated.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. As for helping at the sanctuary, I feel the animals will give as much to me as I will to them. It will be a very enjoyable visit!

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  2. Wow, Dawn, I'm impressed! You sound very organized. I love that you have given yourself specific assignments. This is great. I may need to adopt this kind of philosophy for getting through my current WIP.

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    1. I have lazy tendencies, Ruth, so planning this way helps me ward them off!

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  3. I can manage letter-writing on vacation, (though my last vacation was so long ago I'm not certain of that) but first draft fiction? You are far more ambitious and gusty, Dawn. Good luck! I’d love to hear what you managed, and be inspired.

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  4. When I'm traveling to a new locale, I'm usually too busy making sure my family's needs are met and that we get to do all the stuff we set out to do. Still, like you, I try to collect materials I can refer to later in case I write about where I traveled to. I also keep a journal to record some of my experiences and to jot down my observations.

    Have fun on your trip!

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  5. If I have my Ipod, I am set. I can click to the appropriate music for the mood of the scene I am working on and my fingers fly over the keys as the unfamiliar writing environment fades into the background. I like the idea of collecting postcards for helping with setting and such. I will definitely give that one a go.
    Great post!
    New follow!

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    1. Hi Sabrina and welcome - I'm glad you're here! I wish I could write to music. The idea of having a playlist for inspiration sounds so appealing, but I can't concentrate. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  6. Wow, sounds like a really great opportunity to be alone with your thoughts, in a different environment, and working on your wip. I hope it proves fruitful for you! Did you organize the trip solely to visit some place significant to your wip?

    The only time I ever get any writing done on vacation is my annual trip home for the holidays, since there's no sight-seeing, and there is some downtime. But somehow never as much writing gets done as hoped... love your goal setting, great idea!

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    1. My family visited this area last year so it's somewhat familiar to me. I travelled there initially knowing my WIP would be set there. This time I'll be staying by myself while my husband and son take a side trip once we get there.
      It's good you get a little writing done when you visit home. Maybe the familiar surroundings help? I have trouble being productive when I'm not surrounded by my usual stuff and sitting in my well-worn but very comfortable chair!

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  7. I think it's great you have set goals. Writing while traveling is not easy. I usually try to find the same time everyday to write--usually right before bed. That structure works for me--even if I'm tired and don't have that much time to write before I doze off.

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    1. That's great you can work through your tiredness and get writing done at night. It's so important to take advantage of the time during the day when you're most productive.

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  8. This sounds like a great idea! The job you will be doing sounds very fulfilling and sometimes just doing something different like that can be enough to inspire us, but I like your plan of collecting props for your stories. Hope you get some good stuff down.

    I never have written while on holiday, as I'm spending time with my family, except for my round the world trip where I kept a diary which I later tried to turn into a travelogue. Yes, there is something about collecting those tickets, postcards etc... sadly I was not serious about fiction writing back then!

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    1. That round-the-world trip sounds wonderful!! Surely you've used those experiences somehow for your writing!

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  9. That is a brilliant, brilliant writing plan. I'm much the same - I mean to write on holiday, but never do unless I have very narrow, specific, small goals. I love collecting bits/souvenirs too. They make my world seem so real.

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    1. Glad to hear that strategy works for you, too! Thank you for stopping by!

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  10. I always take stuff with me to do on vacation also but I usually only read the books I take along for pleasure.

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  11. Hi Dawn, thanks for reading my flash piece. Really glad you enjoyed it. Happens to me too. I think I will get a lot more done when I'm away, but seem to do less. Lately I've been writing with pen and paper and I find I've been a lot more productive. A lot less distractions.

    Enjoy the trip and good luck with the writing!

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    1. Hmmm, distractions....as in INTERNET?! Yes, I can see how you'd get more done that way. Thanks for stopping by and for the good wishes!

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  12. When I'm away on travels I rarely get much writing done, but do usually manage to make reading time. For me traveling is mostly a time to mentally be stimulated and collect data.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. I'm looking forward to a 29-hour Amtrak ride out there, so I should have plenty of reading time! Thanks for stopping by, Arlee!

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  13. When I'm on a trip, I usually take copious notes on my journal. If I have a draft finished , I'll take that, because I'm much better about reading than writing something new, and so that's a good time to analyze and critique what I've written. I also jot down ideas for stories and poems, but that's about it -- it's enough to make me feel loyal to my writing, but free to have a great time. :-)

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    1. It sounds like you've found a good balance when you travel. I'm not going to worry too much about not making all my goals while I'm away; like you, it's important to remember why I'm going away to begin with - to experience something new, to relax & have fun!

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  14. Having a plan before you go will help so much. You are preparing for success with the writing assignments you've given yourself. I also collect pamphlets, photos, maps, and I often purchase local books about a locale's history or particular points of interest.

    I try not to overschedule my activities while on vacation, so I feel the freedom to stop and explore a site or setting when I see something I want to write about. You've inspired me to blog about this! Have fun on your trip!

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    1. I love buying local books, too! And I've loaned them out when people ask about our trips. We've gone to some pretty out-of-the-way places over the years, so some our friends curious for reports.
      Happy to hear this inspired you!

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  15. Have a great time! It sounds to me like you've hit on a great plan for being more productive on vacation. Let us know how it goes!

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  16. Enjoy your trip! New follower here. I’m getting a head start on visiting my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.

    Sylvia
    http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

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  17. Never happens! I bring all my stuff, but I think it has something to do with my children being cooped out with me in a small space. I don't get anything done except maybe some reading.

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    1. Yes, I read a ton, too. I'm halfway done with my trip and I'm a little behind with my goals. But that's OK! I'm on vacation after all!

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