Earlier this month, I traveled to Texas to meet with coaching clients. As travel days go, I expected a fairly easy one. I’d hop on the plane just after 11 AM and arrive in Texas at 2:00 PM. Shortly after getting on the plane, the captain told us that there was a slight delay because they had to jumpstart the plane. That wasn’t something I needed to hear. More time passed, the captain informed us that we were waiting for a nonessential part that we should have, just in case. Just in case of what?
We waited longer, and the cabin grew hotter. Finally, the captain let us off the plane. We waited for another two hours at the gate. We boarded the plane again at 3, waiting another hour for the plane to get weighed. Finally at 4:00 PM, five hours after we’d first boarded the plane, we took off.
I’d dropped my daughter off at school before leaving for the airport. When she came home from school, we talked again. I was still at the Milwaukee airport. She had attended a full day of school, including a field trip to see a play, while I had spent the day waiting. During that long delay, I read books, played games on my ipod, read a magazine, talked to my family, listened in on other conversations, texted my colleagues, and snacked. I did not do what I would encourage other writers to do: write. Instead, I let the distractions of the airport and worries about arriving on time rule my day. Never again. Next time I get in this situation—and you know there will be a next time—I want to be prepared. Writers, here is how you can make waiting time work for you:
*Always keep writing tools with you. This might be as simple as a paper and a pen or your computer.
*Keep a writing assignment or a list of writing tasks with you at all times. That way, you can use extra time to develop great hook sentences for your next query or create a scene between two characters.
*Use technology. Listen to your iPod or MP3 player while you wait so that you don’t have to listen to everyone else talking or complaining!
*Make a game of it. How many words can you write during a layover? Try to better your time each time you wait.
*Take inspiration. Always bring a book or magazine to inspire you. As you read, keep an eye out for ideas that might make a good story or novel.
*Find inspiration. If you forget to do any of the above things, do not despair. Watch people and listen in on conversations. All of these experiences will be fodder for stories.
Writers, how do you stay productive while waiting? Add your comments below!
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