Elizabeth Craig/Riley Adams is one of the hardest working writers I know, writing multiple series at the same time, in addition to being a top-notch blogger and Twitter expert extraordinaire. I don’t know how she manages to juggle her writing with being a mother, either, but it’s truly inspirational. Why, she’s so busy, she needs two names! If you like fun mysteries, I highly recommend hers. Please welcome one of my favorite writing pals to the blog!
Tips for Writing Away from Home
by Elizabeth Craig
Do you ever write in cafes or coffeehouses? How about…swimming pools? I took my daughter and her friend to the pool the other day, intending to get some writing done while they entertained themselves. I was so organized, too—towels, goggles, snacks, membership card, sunscreen—but somehow the notebook that was in my hand didn’t make it into the pool bag.
Fortunately, the YMCA was obliging, even though they now think I’m a little odd. “Do you have any registration forms?” I asked.
The teenage staffer: “Registration for what, ma’am?”
“For…anything!” I answered.
There was a pause. “Day camp? Fall preschool? Gymnastics?”
“Yes!” I said.
Luckily, I got enough blank-backed registration forms to keep me in paper for the next couple of hours. (I had to write small.)
The pool isn’t the only place I write. Besides the usual cafes and coffeehouses, I’ve written at the park, at a bowling alley, skating rinks, Disney World…the list goes on and on.
Tips for Writing in Public Places:
Be prepared. Don’t be like me! Obviously, I’d run through my entire emergency supply of index cards when I ran into my problem at the pool. 4x6 index cards are perfect for writing—you can store them in your car’s glove compartment, or other small spaces. Pencils seem to be more reliable than pens (which have a tendency to be gloppy sometimes.) Have extra cards and notebooks with you, too, in case you run out of space in one notebook, or break the point on a pencil.
Voice recorders can be useful (if no one is close.) I’ve got a free voice recorder on my phone that holds a ton of recordings. Obviously, though, I’m going to restrain myself from muttering about murder if anyone is close by :)
Shed your self-consciousness. Although you’ve got to be a little careful about the voice recorder, you shouldn’t worry in general about how you look when you’re out writing. Yes, I’ve had people come up and ask me questions about what I’m doing…usually they seem to think I’m sketching, which seems weird to me. I guess because I’m usually staring blankly around me as I write. But writing away from home really opens up a lot of possibilities if you’re open to the experience.
Choose a spot where no one knows you. Is there a local coffeehouse that’s a hangout for your friends and neighbors? It’s probably better to skip it and head for a spot a little farther from home if you’re genuinely trying to get some writing done.
Soak up your surroundings. There’s usually plenty of fodder for books in public places: you can find character traits, names, and other tidbits that can be worked into books.
An e-reader can be your friend. Load your files onto your e-reader for easy transport of your manuscript. Text files work best (at least for the Kindle), since PDFs can’t be enlarged. With your manuscript in tow, it’s easy to pick up writing where you left off, or check something from an earlier section of your manuscript.
Transcribe it before you lose it. If you’re writing away from home and don’t have your laptop with you, be sure to transcribe your scribbles over to Word when you get back home…before you lose them. I can’t think how many times I’ve had to search for small bits of paper that had important parts of my book on them.
Do you like writing away from home? Where is your favorite place to write? Any tips for writing on the go? And—many thanks, Alan, for hosting me today!
Elizabeth’s latest book, Finger Lickin’ Dead , released June 7th. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink.
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