Wednesday, July 11, 2012

10 Things for Writers to Pack When They Travel

Taken in London from Gabriel's Wharf, July 4, 2012

As some of you may know, I've moved to England for the summer. This life-changing event obviously meant packing; not just clothes but writing-related packing. Far more tricky (for me, at any rate). I share with you now the highlights of what I learned.

10. Go through all your papers (both real and virtual) containing notes about your WIP so you can stuff them into your luggage. I put mine in my carry-on. The thought of them getting lost was too evil to contemplate.
9. Attempt not to judge yourself about the excess or lack of the above-mentioned notes.

8. Airlines now subject you to strict limits on luggage weight, unless you want to pay extra charges. (My thoughts on extra charges another time) This may, depending on your personal financial situation, prevent you from bringing the entire contents of your bookcase.

7. The above may be an argument for e-readers.

6. Laptops are heavy (unless you have a MacBook Air). I do not.

5. You cannot pack enough pens.

4. You may be writing far from home, but you're still writing. Pack some things for your writing area which bring you comfort.  I brought framed pictures of my kids and my favourite writing quotes to inspire me.

3. If you don't have a nifty smartphone with the ability to record (which I do not), pack small pads of paper to stuff into your purse, pocket, whatever, in order to record notes when inspiration strikes. If you're like me, and some of the reasons you've traveled is for research, write down your impressions FAST. Remember to use all your senses.

2. You do not need to pack chocolate or coffee unless you cannot buy it where you going. If this is the situation, my question to you is: "Why in hector are you going there?"

1. Pack flash-drives. Many, many, flash-drives. Crap happens.

Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her latest mystery game,  "A Fatal Fairy Tale" was published in February.  All her murder mystery games and two plays are available through host-party.comShe has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine Elias. Her blog, It's A Mystery, explores the writing process with a touch of humor. She is on Twitter as @elspethwrites

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  1. Elspeth, what a great idea for a post! I too have relocated for the summer, from Philadelphia PA area to northern NY State, where I write looking out on an idyllic lake (no commercial interests, just private cabins). I travel by car, though, which means my desktop computer, printer, and milk crate full of reference materials and projects (mine and those I'm editing) can travel along without additional fees.

    Yet even in this scenario the most important thing are the flash drives: the one with my novel on it, and a backup!

  2. Yes, Kindles are fantastic. I used to travel with two or three books in my carry on and 2-3 more in my luggage. No more! And yes pens. Why are there never enough pens when you travel??

  3. Ah, what a grand opportunity to collect more grist for your writing mill, Elspeth! And many thanks for the travel tips.

    I'm not much of a traveler--and my laptop doesn't contain the same programs as my pc because of licensing restrictions -- but it still works, despite my grumbling about its unfamiliar keyboard.

    Great ideas!

  4. No worries for me ... I'm too poor to go anywhere.

  5. Kathryn; It sounds as if you're in a wonderful location - lucky you! Also lucky you not having to worry about weight restrictions.

    Lauri; I will not admit to how many books came over with me, but there will be even more coming home. I foresee trouble - or shipping some stuff early!

    Linda; It is a marvelous opportunity and one that seemed to just fall into place. I'd have houses all over the world, if I could.

    Christopher; Ah, but things change. You never know.

  6. *timidly raises knitting needle*

    Can I still bring my yarn?

  7. silfert; Of course! I'd like a scarf please.

  8. You can buy pens as well as coffee and chocolate!

    And I have visions of you with your papers on the plane, like Josh when he's going to find Sam in "Transition".

  9. I can so relate to #1. I think there's a spare flash drive laying around somewhere...

    I'll need to back up my current one tonight--both locally and in the cloud.

  10. Fenny; That is *exactly* what I looked like. Just more squished.

    Chihuahua; Good for you. Always back up your back up. And then back up again.

  11. You're better off with a decent external hard drive than a bunch of tiny things. It always takes me 15 times longer to go through all the different pen drives than just plugging in a 250Gb drive and saving it all on that.

    Plus you can get several seasons of your favourite TV shows on there as well!

  12. Great travel tips, Elspeth. And I so agree about the coffee and chocolate. A country that doesn't have those two essential food groups will never see my feet.

    Have a wonderful time while you are there.

  13. Fenny; Of course you're right.

    Maryann; Can you imagine the horror? They also help to pass the time as you wait and wait and wait in airports.

  14. What you need to remember about forn parts is that although they might have coffee and chocolate is that you might not be able to speak forn in order to buy them. And you may not go near any shops to buy them. So always pack a box of Mars Bars in case you're in India and have a chauffeur driven car between the guest house and the office that doesn't go anywhere close to a sweetie shop! Or you don't know the German for "Mars Bar".

  15. I'm still SQUEEEEing for you, by the way. :)

  16. Fenny; Your wisdom continues.

    Elisa; Thanks, my friend. I'm still squeeeing for me as well. I'm waking up every morning going "Really? I'm here? It's not a dream?" It's wonderful.

  17. Oh Elspeth, that "crap happens" is so true! I almost always take my laptop with me when I travel, but this time I'll remember to take smart drives. Thank you.
    Hope you've been having a great summer!

  18. Okay, there's a back-story here that has my curiosity up. I mean... most people don't just go live in England for the summer, right? How'd you get so lucky?

  19. Also, a camera to snap pictures that tell a thousand words, which you can later use to fuel descriptions of setting and characters.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.