Title: Finding Time to Write While Juggling a Travel-Heavy Day Job

Title: Finding Time to Write While Juggling a Travel-Heavy Day Job

As an aspiring author with a day job that involves frequent travel, you might feel like your writing dreams are constantly being put on hold. For me, they were literally put on hold, a little by my own laziness, and a little by feeling like I simply did not have the time when I landed the amazing job I have now. But fear not! With some creativity, determination, and smart time management, you can make significant progress on your manuscript, even when you’re constantly on the move. I am just getting back into this concept, so take everything you read with a grain of salt (some of these ideas aren’t even tested yet).

This guide will show you how to turn those “dead” travel hours into productive writing time, whether you’re on a plane, waiting at an airport, or unwinding in your hotel room.

  1. Writing on the Plane: Your Personal Writing Retreat in the Sky

Air travel often feels like lost time, but it can actually be one of the most productive writing environments available to you. Here’s how to make the most of it:

  • Choose your seat wisely: If possible, opt for a window seat. This gives you a bit more privacy and reduces interruptions from seatmates needing to get up.
  • Invest in noise-cancelling headphones: These can be a lifesaver in drowning out the ambient noise of the plane and helping you focus. I cannot go anywhere without my headphones!
  • Use offline writing tools: Don’t count on having reliable Wi-Fi. Use a simple text editor or a writing app with offline capabilities.
  • Set realistic goals: A cross-country flight might give you several uninterrupted hours, while a short hop between cities might only allow for quick edits or brainstorming.
  • Embrace the limitations: Use the lack of internet as an opportunity to focus solely on your writing without distractions. You know, If you are like me and your mind tend to wander (to the internet where you can look at nonsense on Facebook or Reddit).
  • Stay hydrated and comfortable: Bring a water bottle and dress in layers to ensure physical comfort during your writing session.
  1. Airport Layovers: Turning Waiting Time into Writing Time

Layovers can be frustrating, but they’re also a gift of unscheduled time. Here’s how to use them effectively:

  • Scout out quiet spots: Many airports have designated quiet areas or even small business centers. Find a comfortable spot away from the bustle of the main concourses.
  • Use airport lounges: If you travel frequently, consider investing in lounge access. These often provide a more comfortable, quiet environment conducive to writing. Now, this sounds amazing, but I myself have not taken this plunge (I actually got this suggestion from someone else).
  • Break your writing into chunks: You may not know exactly how long your layover will be, so work on smaller, manageable sections of your project.
  • Keep a “layover kit” in your carry-on: Include items like a portable charger, notepad, pens, and any other tools you need to write comfortably.
  • Practice people-watching: If you’re feeling stuck, use the diverse array of travelers around you as inspiration for character development or dialogue. I love people watching, so many interesting, funny, and heartwarming things to see!
  1. Hotel Room Writing: Creating a Productive Space Away from Home

After a long day of work or travel, it can be tempting to just relax in your hotel room (which I often do. We are talking about the lazy creative here). But with the right approach, you can turn it into a personal writing retreat:

  • Establish a writing routine: Set a specific time each day for writing, whether it’s early morning before work or in the evening after dinner.
  • Create a dedicated writing space: Even in a small hotel room, designate a specific area for writing. This could be the desk, a comfortable chair, or even the bed if that works for you. Me, I always write on my laptop, so this can be just about anywhere.
  • Minimize distractions: Turn off the TV (talking to myself here, lol), put your phone on silent, and consider using website blockers to avoid the temptation of mindless browsing (again, talking to myself).
  • Use hotel amenities to your advantage: If the hotel has a quiet lobby or a business center, consider using these spaces for a change of scenery. I don’t know why – maybe just me – but I find it comforting and stimulating to write surrounded by others, so my favorite spot is the little lobby lounge that most hotels have.
  1. Maximizing Your Writing Time While Traveling

Regardless of where you’re writing, these tips can help you make the most of your limited time:

  • Always carry your writing tools: Whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or old-fashioned notebook, make sure you always have a way to write when inspiration strikes. Oh! a handy voice recorder is always nice when on the go – most of our phones have an app already built in.
  • Use cloud storage: Ensure your work is backed up and accessible from any device, in case you switch between your phone, tablet, and laptop.
  • Set small, achievable goals: Instead of vague intentions to “work on your novel,” set specific targets like “write 500 words” or “edit one chapter.”
  • Embrace imperfection: Don’t let the pursuit of the perfect sentence stop you from getting words on the page. Remember, you can always edit later. Oh yeah, definitely talking to myself on this one.
  • Use transitional moments: Those five minutes waiting to board your flight or the elevator ride to your hotel room can be used for quick brainstorming or recording ideas.
  1. Balancing Writing and Work Responsibilities

It’s crucial to maintain a clear separation between your day job and your writing to avoid any conflicts of interest:

  • Respect work hours: Only write during your personal time, such as before or after work hours, during lunch breaks (if allowed), or on weekends.
  • Use separate devices: If possible, use a personal laptop or tablet for your writing, distinct from any work-issued devices.
  • Be transparent with your employer: If there’s any chance your writing could be seen as related to your work, discuss it with your supervisor or HR department to ensure there are no issues. This is crucial, I feel. And, hey, when I did this, my manager ended up being one of my biggest fans!
  • Stay organized: Keep your writing materials and notes separate from work documents to avoid any mix-ups.
  1. Staying Motivated and Accountable

Maintaining momentum in your writing while managing a busy travel schedule can be challenging. Here are some strategies to keep you on track:

  • Join online writing communities: Connect with other writers through forums or social media groups. Share your goals and progress for added accountability. This is one of those suggestions I stole from someone – my little sister – but I have been to nervous thus far to take this advice and own it. Something super scary about having so many people read your rough drafts, no? Just me? Well…
  • Use writing apps with tracking features: Apps like WriteTrack can help you set and monitor daily word count goals.
  • Reward yourself: Set up a system of small rewards for meeting your writing targets, like a special treat at your destination or a relaxing activity after a productive session – there are always yummy treats in the hotel store 😉
  • Find a writing buddy: Partner with another writer to check in regularly on each other’s progress and offer encouragement. Again, my sister, but I don’t mind her reading my stuff so much.
  1. Embracing the Writer’s Lifestyle on the Road

Finally, remember that your travels can enrich your writing in unexpected ways:

  • Use your experiences as inspiration: The places you visit, the people you meet, and the situations you encounter can all feed into your writing, providing fresh perspectives and authentic details.
  • Observe and record: Keep a small notebook or use your phone to jot down interesting observations, snippets of overheard conversation, or vivid descriptions of your surroundings.
  • Embrace the nomadic writer tradition: Remember that many great writers throughout history have created their masterpieces while traveling. You’re part of a long and illustrious tradition!


Balancing a travel-heavy day job with your passion for writing is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s far from impossible. By viewing your travel time as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, you can make significant progress on your writing projects. Remember, every word you write brings you closer to your goals, whether you’re cruising at 30,000 feet, waiting out a delay at the gate, or unwinding in a hotel room halfway across the country.

The key is to be flexible, prepared, and committed to your craft. With these strategies in your toolkit, you’ll be well-equipped to pursue your writing dreams, no matter where your day job takes you. So the next time you find yourself rushing to catch a flight or checking into yet another hotel, take a deep breath and smile. You’re not just a business traveler – you’re a writer on a journey, and every step is taking you closer to finishing that manuscript. Safe travels and happy writing!

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