Being creative is hard enough on its own without having to travel for your day job. I’ve learned quite a few things about trying to be creative while traveling that I’d like to share. Although these are my attempts to keep writing while traveling on the road, they apply to other creative endeavors at least as much. I imagine that several creative outlets would be extremely difficult to maintain with any travel schedule, however. For instance, writing can be done pretty much anywhere. More physical forms of creativity, like painting, sculpture or photography could be a challenge.
Build your routine
First, you have to get your creative self into the routine of creating. As creatives, we think we are somehow above routines. Routines apply to “the other people” I often tell myself. I’ve been known to say that routines numb the senses. Some may even say “muggles” after reading way too much Harry Potter. The first change I had to make to become a reliable creative was to create every day. I sit my butt down first thing in the morning and write. The only thing I do before writing is to brush my teeth and get coffee. Everything else waits until I’ve hit a word count for the day. For me, as I’m still very new to this creating everyday bit, 500 words each day is my goal. I usually go over that, but that’s the forced goal.
Show up and do the work
Why a forced goal? I’m glad you asked. The difference between an amateur and a professional is not just the critical part of being paid. And if I’m honest here, I’m not a professional creative. I’m still a salesperson primarily. But professionals show up every day and do the work. They build, they struggle, they carve out the time needed to get done what must be done. They don’t wait for inspiration. That’s why, while I’ve been writing for 30 years on and off until I committed myself to write every day and not just journal entries, I didn’t see any forward movement. So the first step, for me, was to prove to myself that I can write every single day, weekends included. My routine is the morning, yours can be anywhere, but you must get it instilled every day.
Adjust to the environment
Here comes the hard part. Travel. I have my morning routine down. It starts at 4:30 AM so I can carve it out of my day. Did I mention sacrifice yet? OK, so there’s a fair bit of sacrifice that comes into play with this entire endeavor. Unless you are happily retired or living on a trust fund of some sort, you’re going to have to sacrifice something to carve out the time to create. I’ve figured I need about three hours throughout the day to create, generate new ideas, and make posts ready to be posted. Great at home. Now, I rarely get to travel in my timezone. So if I travel West, my day starts pretty early. But I can’t keep the same schedule because I’d be up at 2:30 AM and going to bed at 6 PM. That’s not realistic, so I try to adjust to the local timezone as much as possible. Depending on how your body accepts changes to your sleep schedule is how well you will do with this. I can say, I struggle going East more than West.
The other struggle is the environment. Everything you read around writing every day says have a place to write. So I have to make sure I have a place to work in the hotel room. My environment has become my hated MacBook Pro. Wherever it sits, is my writing space. My work computer will double in a pinch, but I find the keyboard on the MacBook to be a little better to my liking. I use Evernote because it synchronizes with all my computers and handhelds. I recently tried Bear, and prefer it, but there’s no Windows version, and I do a lot of my posting from a Windows Desktop at home.
The most significant struggle for me, since I’m in sales, is keeping a lid on my nocturnal activities so I can actually get up in the morning and be coherent. Dinners, drinks, etc. cause my mornings to be much more difficult than when I’m not doing those things. So this week I successfully (mostly) was able to have one drink and keep a lid on myself.
But, just as I wrote this post on the road, it can be done, but it all started with the routine of every day. Getting that solid foundation down first, before you begin to travel is what made the difference for me. The sacrifice of making sure I don’t get right up and start checking emails, the sacrifice of adjusting how many hours of sleep I get to make sure I have time before my typical work day, the sacrifice of staying off of social media, is how I get this done.
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