Living the life of a traveling writer/editor (different from that of a travel writer) can be challenging. One of the most annoying obstacles is getting your mind to settle down and think about work. A part of your brain wants you to believe all the money you’ve made up to now will last forever and you will be fine if you sit a while longer with your cup of coffee watching the river run near the campground.
But it’s not true. Your brain is tricking you! The realities of business still exist, even when you are floating across the country, visiting spots normal people only visit when they have two weeks off work.
On the other hand, part of the reason you are living this life is to explore and enjoy the world – to immerse yourself in nature, cities, grand vistas and satisfy your curiosity. You need time to soak in beautiful sights and dig into the history of small towns. This is what makes dealing with the challenges of being on the road worthwhile.
So, how do you get your two purposes working together?
Traveling Writer/Editor TIP #1: Schedule Both Work and Fun Time
You’ve probably guessed the most important tip I have to share: allocate time to both work and fun. That means creating at least somewhat of a schedule – carving out work hours when you can concentrate on the tasks you must do to keep your business healthy. It also means carving out time to do some choice “tourist” activities.
Yesterday, for example, I knew I had to work on a client article, but I decided I did not want to leave Bastrop State Park in Texas without taking at least a small hike. So I borrowed from the “delivers-promptly” equity I’ve built with my client and delayed delivery of the article so I could go for a hike.
Believe me, it wasn’t easy. My go-to motivation for about the last 20 years has been “Do it now or they’ll go get someone else to write their stuff.” Neglecting (or what feels like neglecting) my work to do something fun would have been taboo to me in past years. (Apologies to my kids for being such a workaholic sometimes. But don’t forget the times we drove through town shooting bubble guns out the sunroof of the ZX2…)
Now, I realize it’s REALLY important to schedule and take these fun-breaks. Not just because I want to enjoy my travels, but because it actually makes me more productive. They told me this for years in professional coaching sessions. And now I know it’s true. Travel motivated me to do it for real.
Traveling Writer/Editor TIP #2: Create an Irresistible Workspace
Create a workspace you love. If you are drawn to the wonderfulness of the specific space you work in, it will be easier to “neglect” the fun stuff for a while to get some serious work done. And you can use the siren call of fun as your reward. I have, in fact, seriously reduced my writing time when I travel because I am so focused on getting free so I can play.
My favorite place to work is the table at the front of the Scotty trailer — the one that converts down into a bed when I have company. It’s best to be hooked up to electricity, so I don’t have to worry about my laptop running out of power. However, I have backup power that allows me to work wherever I am.
I love the feeling of sitting here at the table with windows surrounding me, usually with some wonderful natural setting to inspire me. I put a little music on and fire up the gas stove to make some coffee and get a few snacks … heaven. How can I say no to that? Time to work, and happy to do it!
Traveling Writer/Editor TIP #3: Choose Your Favorite Fun and be Satisfied
For a few years, I ironically felt very stressed out by being in beautiful settings where there was lots to do. I knew I didn’t have time to do everything, and because I was living spontaneously I was a wreck when I arrived in the location and suddenly had to choose.
Now, I realize I need to consider the options and choose what sounds best before I arrive if I can, and then I’ll feel settled on what my “carrot” is. I choose the thing I can be satisfied with and that makes it okay to let the rest go. Choosing one activity often helps me decide on exact work and fun times, because fun activities need to be carried out at certain times, but I can work anytime.
Even if I do arrive spontaneously in a location, which still happens pretty often, I take time right after arriving to think about what I want to do for fun. Then I plan my work around that. Voila! Both work and fun accounted for, and it allows me to settle in and enjoy them both.
Writing on the Road is Something Anyone Can Do
These same principles can be put into place if you find you need to work on vacation. The overall principle is simply to put boundaries around both fun and work. When your family is with you, you’ll need to take into consideration everyone’s favorite activities, of course. Some compromises may be necessary.
But you can control of the work part. Make sure the time you choose fits the group’s needs, but make sure they know how important is that you get the work time without fail and without interruption. Explain to your fellow travelers that it is this strict work time that allows you to be free for fun before and after the time slot you choose.
Being a traveling writer/editor is easy if you get your priorities straight and make a few plans. Don’t let your brain trick you. It’s okay to be spontaneous — just put a few boundaries around your writing/editing time and choose your fun intentionally. You’ll have the time of your life and sustain your business at the same time.