Guest Post: Writing on the Go

A guest post by Blair Hurley from listing some hints on how to make sure you’re writing on the go.

Writing on the Go by Blair Hurley

Writers use their own environment constantly to enrich their stories. We draw upon our settings and the people around us to create worlds. So when we travel, it’s crucial to take advantage of the new environment and use it to improve our fiction. But when you’re on the go in a new place, how’s a writer supposed to get down information? Read on!

Get a notebook! It’s hardly rocket science to decide to have a notebook handy, but when you’re traveling it’s especially important. Find a small, easy-to-handle notebook (I suggest a Moleskine, which are very popular right now and are affordable and tough) and slip it in your purse or back pocket. While on your trip or just during your usual daily travels, you should get used to being attached at the hip to that notebook (and a pen, too). Whenever you leave the house, take the notebook with you. Eventually it will become a habit and then you’ll never be without writing material when an idea or an interesting observation strikes.

Write down even the obvious. Our brains are pretty extraordinary and we’re all used to storing a tremendous amount of varied information without writing it down. But once you start writing down your observations, you’ll realize how much you actually lost before. Whenever you see an interesting-looking stranger, a beautiful building, a food you’ve never seen before, or an unusual event, jot down some notes. Later, when you’re wondering what to write or how to make it seem genuine, you’ll have these interesting details to call upon.

Use all your senses, and participate in your world. When we travel around, too much these days we shut ourselves out from all external stimulation by putting on headphones. Listening to music is great, but it closes us off from the world, as evidenced by the number of traffic accidents that are iPod-related. The more you engage with your surroundings, the more you’ll notice and the more material you’ll get. So if you’re going to a new place, turn off that Mp3 player and look, listen, smell and touch. Remember not just how a place looked, but how it smelled and felt as well. These sensory details are invaluable material for your fiction.

So in conclusion, whenever you’re on the go, you don’t have to wait until you get back to write about it. Take down notes on all aspects of the experience — while you’re on a subway, while walking down a street, even on a plane. Use your small moments to pull out that notebook and record the details of your environment, and it will prove a gold mine of resources for your next stories.

Blair Hurley is a creative writing student at Princeton University. She writes the blog Creative Writing Corner at, which offers daily writing exercises, how-to’s, and thoughts on the writing life.

Next week, a guest post from Bethany (Word Nerd). She’s going to give us a guide to reading science fiction/fantasy!