Can you pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time? I never could. Can you write when you drive? I think I can.
My day job as a visiting nurse means long hours on the road with stops along the way to check on my patients. When I am in the car my time is my own. I can listen to the radio, blast a CD, talk on the phone (speaker phone, of course), or just bask in the sun and silence of driving solo. Or I can write. Loosely speaking that is.
Since I work full-time at my day job and write evenings and weekends, squeezing in extra time for writing isn’t always easy but I think I’ve found a way to take advantage of my down-time during the day to advance my writing. Here is how I do it:
I jot notes at red lights. Amazing how long some of the lights can be. This is when I work on my plot outline. My notes look like this:
Bernie meets Andrea.
House gets broken into.
Bernie stumbles on to the body.
Enough red lights and my chapter outline is almost done.
When I can’t write, I talk into a micro-cassette. At first it felt awkward but now I find it is invaluable. I can dictate a page of my book or record chapter notes.
I stay motivated as a writer by listening to audio CD’s on writing. My favorites are:
A Conversation on The Writing Life by Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg– this is an
inspiring dialogue between two extraordinary authors on the world of writers.
Old Friend from far away by Natalie Goldberg-this is marketed for people who want to
write memoir but can be used by any aspiring writer to learn how to make your writing vibrant.
How I Write by Janet Evanowich- this is as fun to listen to as her books are to read. In fact there are many examples read right from her books to illustrate techniques such as plot development.
I also use my experiences driving to practice my writing skills and stimulate by imagination. I notice houses that have a mysterious aura to them and make up stories
about them. The season, the weather, people walking, a man mowing, a moving truck in front of a house all generate scenes I can use in my writing.
I highly recommend a new book called Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney for more
discussion about blending the writer and day job worlds. She has a chapter called: “Drive-Time: Thinking Out Loud on the Road” with her thoughts on how to use drive-time to your writing advantage.
So during my time on the road, I can write plot outlines, record chapter notes, develop scenes, improve my writing skills, stay motivated as a writer, and dictate pages for my book. That is pretty close to patting your hat and rubbing your belly at the same time, isn’t it?