Using Drive-Time As Write-Time

16 Jun




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?


Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Mystery Writing, Uncategorized, Writing


Tags: , ,

3 responses to “Using Drive-Time As Write-Time

  1. Kathy

    June 16, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Commuting 60 miles a day, I composed in my head. As soon as I hit the road, my characters began to talk. I left my first night class in writing the novel with no novel in mind. By the time I arrived home, just over an hour later, chapter one was mapped out. Creativity hasn’t been the same since I stopped traveling on a daily basis.

  2. Lillian Grant

    June 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I plan plot whilst driving to and from work and write notes at the end of the journey. I get the best ideas stuck in traffic.

  3. ainegreaney

    April 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Great post. Thanks for mention of my book, Writer with a Day Job. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I also get some of my best ideas on the road. You might enjoy a visit to the companion blog,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: