Recently, I’ve been traveling (albeit locally) a fair amount – this last weekend alone saw me running back and forth, catching trains, with each trip taking between two and four hours. It’s tiring. It’s time consuming. I try not to do it too often if I can avoid it.
Despite this, however, I don’t find such journeys to be entirely unproductive when it comes to my creative process. There are a number of things I do to help keep myself creating stories in one fashion or another, no matter where I’m going or how long it’s taking me.
While on the longer rides, naturally, my new Lenovo comes out and I start typing away at whatever project I’m working on. However, depending on the trip I frequently find myself hopping from train to train, or sitting in a station, sometimes for the dreaded Twenty Minutes.
(As an aside, let it be known that the author considers the aforementioned Twenty Minutes to be the absolute worst amount of time to wait for anything. Thirty is enough settle down and do something, fifteen is short enough to just sit and wait, but twenty is just in that horrific spot in between.)
It’s during those times, or on the shorter rides, that the more old fashioned tools sometimes reappear. I was recently gifted a new set of pens (by Tessa, no less) and in combination with the little black notebook I carry in my inner coat pocket they’ve allowed me to be somewhat productive. I jot down notes, vague notions, potential plots – all to assist me in actually writing the next time I get the chance. I have scribbled ideas standing in the freezing cold in the middle of the night, or seated on an uncomfortable metal bench during an unpleasantly sweltering day, my foot on the strap of my duffel so as not to tempt any would-be thieves.
This last weekend, for example, allowed me to chart a cohesive (if rough) timeline from the beginning of my storyverse to its present day. The process revealed to me some gaps in my planning, allowing me to later revise and polish into something resembling a coherent history. Not a bad thing in any sense of the word (assuming we discount my handwriting).
There are some trips, however, where I don’t find myself actively writing. Journeys where I just sit and stare out the window, and since I’ve started traveling less and less I’ve realised just how much a part of my creative process that was – sitting in a train or a bus, watching the world scroll by while music (ever my greatest source of inspiration) plays. I have scripted entire story mythos in public transit, scenes and plot twists, histories and character profiles.
Thinking of it now, I realise can safely say that every single one of my projects since I was a child has, at one point, owed some of its development to time I spent aboard some variety of public transportation.