Writing At The Speed Of 88 MPH (Or Less…)

PSA From The L Palmer Chronicles:

Have you participated in Hello’s and High-Five’s yet? 

I especially mean you, person who enjoys this post enough to hit the “Like” button, but is unsure what to write in the comments.  The more bloggers who participate, the more chances we have of making new connections.

Go on over and say ‘Hello!’

Now back to our regularly scheduled post.

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Time is a precious and rare commodity for any aspiring author who is also trying to pay the bills.  For years, I have struggled to carve a few precious hours into the day for transferring my busy imagination into words.  I often crammed a sentence or paragraph in just before bed, just to get a little closer to telling the epic story within my mind.

Then, about a year and a half ago, I discovered a time machine.

While it doesn’t go 88 mph, nor is it bigger on the inside, it does mystically add 2-3 hours of uninterrupted, minimal-distraction writing time.

Also, it lowers my use of gas by 70%, and helps save the environment.

What is this glamorous, miraculous vehicle?

The inter-county public bus.

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Welcome to my desk.

As the bus chugs along the freeway, I put on a good pair of head phones and drift into the vast fictional universe within my mind.  Riding along the freeway, I set up epic battles, heart-breaking twists, build suspense, and then rush to get one more word in as we pull towards the bus stop.

All this as traffic looks like this:

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Or, when this happens:

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It’s hard to tell from this image, but there are about four Highway Patrol vehicles surrounding this accident.

When I first started I toted my laptop every day.  While my laptop is a handy tool, it was slightly cumbersome and difficult to use when the bus is tightly packed.  Also, I’m always looking for a good reason to buy a snappy gadget.  Thus, over the summer, I invested in a Google Nexus 7 tablet and a bluetooth keyboard.

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Two keyboards are better than one.

Little did I know the bus comes with a custom-sized window sill designed specifically for tablets.

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With the keyboard resting on my desk tray (aka my lap), I can type smoothly and quickly.

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You may notice two of the F Key’s are missing.  Much as I solve most things, I turned to duct tape for the answer. Thus, this custom bluetooth keyboard sleeve made of duct tape and construction paper. Durable and stylish.

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Every problem can be solved with duct tape.

The great thing about a tablet is its portability. As I’m walking to my car, or out doing errands, I can finish etching out that one piece of dialogue, or that one scene.

There are some challenges and distractions:
1.  As the bus jolts around, some letters are missed or multiplied, creating many typos to fix later.
2. Being a public bus, there are the interesting happenings that occur now and then due to a disorderly passenger. For example, there was the day a man who appeared homeless was cussing out a group of girls between 10 and 12 because they had glanced at him.
3. Riding the bus every day, I’ve made friends who I enjoy talking to and checking in with. I think this is a worthwhile distraction, and most have the first drop-off, and I have the last drop-off. This gives me an extra 15 minutes, and an excuse to say hello.
4. There are all the other things I can do on a tablet.  E-books and and nifty, shiny games beckon as I’m pushing through writer’s block.  Angry Birds Space has never been so dangerous.

Still, thanks to my time machine/bus, I’m able to edge just a little closer to completing my Great Novel every day.

Oh, and did I mention the view?

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Natural lens flare!  Thanks bus window!

Do you have your own time machine that helps you carve out time to write? Where is your favorite place to write? If you were to have a time machine, would you rather have a Delorian or a TARDIS?

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BRIEF SHOUT-OUT: This post is partially inspired by Railcard Recovery from Cesca Say, in which she has a picture of a convenient tray on her commuting train, and Destination Inspiration from Harvesting Hecate, in which the author celebrates bus journeys.

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18 thoughts on “Writing At The Speed Of 88 MPH (Or Less…)

  1. Sounds nice! I picked up a bluetooth keyboard before a trip to Hawaii, then worked on my story while on the airplane. So I agree with the ease of toting. I should do that on the train. Although I guess I tend to read there. *shrug* Maybe I’ll do a little of both.

    I think I’d prefer a TARDIS. It’s bigger on the inside, you can store clothes and almost anything else in there and it doesn’t need garbage or plutonium refills for fuel. Plus everything just thinks a blue box is odd. Delorian they’d wonder about I think. But that’s not saying that Back to the Future isn’t one of the best movies ever made, cuz it certainly is. Great post!

  2. I do have a magic time machine. I call it 4AM. Used to be 5AM but I need time to goof off and drink coffee. So, my brain has been trained to wake itself up by 4/4:15AM, and I do something until I have to leave for work a couple hours later. 4AM is the best time of the day, before anyone knows they should bug me…

  3. Very inspiring and proves the point that with some ingenuity there’s always time to do what we love to do. But I confess I’d be too distracted by that scenery you’re enjoying, at least until the crazies got one. Nice post.

  4. Pingback: Inspired | Harvesting Hecate

  5. Finding time to write is one of our ongoing challenges, but you came up with a great solution. But I think if I was doing that I would take a note pad and pen or pencil so nobody would be tempted to snatch it from me.

    • It’s very difficult to write with a note pad while the bus is bumping along. I find people on the bus are trustworthy and will return wallets if left behind. I’d rather have a tool where I can carry my whole novel with me and result edit it.

  6. I’m ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’, please note! When I was a schoolkid in the UK I did most of my homework on the bus into school; a good halfhour journey, I manage to ride the bumps and developed a passable handwriting style. On the way back home I seem to remember from the top deck of the bus (yes, we had doubledeckers in most UK cities then) doing a lot of staring at women passers-by, oh the shame of it!

    When I then travelled to work in a library by bus I read … library books. When that made me sick, I developed ‘holiday consciousness’, the trick of the mind that pretends you’re on holiday in a strange city and which allows you to see things fresh, especially when it’s from the top of a double-decker.

    Now I live in the countryside, where public transport is almost non-existant, I travel distances by car, which denies me writing-time, reading-time and holiday-consciousness-time. You’ll be glad to know I’m now a New Man, and don’t stare at women passers-by any more.

    Great post, by the way!

    • I always appreciate and look forward to your comments. My PSA at the beginning was directed to people who have “Liked” the Hello and High Five’s post, but not participated in the activity – I’m glad they liked it, but am perplexed they didn’t take the opportunity to build traffic to their blogs.
      I’m glad you’ve grown up from your school-boy days, and am a bit sad we don’t have doubledeckers here in the US.

  7. Big payday coming, I might have to invest in a laptop and maybe a tablet.

    I like this, it’s nice to hear of the ways people find to write when life is too hectic.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • There are many great, relatively low cost tablets on the market. I love my tablet’s portability, but would still rather have a full laptop screen to work with. Both can be a great investment for a writer.

  8. Pingback: Writing At The Speed Of 88 MPH (Or Less…) (Re-Press from L. Palmer) | Max Shields

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