Business Trips and Writing

I stumbled upon the Columbus Day Parade down 5th Avenue today.

I am on a plane taking me back to LA from New York, still reeling from two 17+ hour days of shooting. Thankfully I love my job, but this weekend did a number on me. I did manage to catch up on sleep last night – it was one of the few times I was able to resist the urge to get sloshed with my co-workers after our last day of work – and I even spent a couple of hours wandering around the city today before getting to the airport.

 While the hours I put in on the road are outrageous, I actually love traveling for work because of the writing time I get while in the air. I know I’ve written about how much it sucks to write on a plane, but there is a sense of contentment I always get when I take my seat for a cross-country flight. I know there is nowhere I have to be, not much I have to do and very few ways I can waste time – all I have to do is just wait while I’m taken from Point A to Point B.   My laptop and some reading material is all I have with me, and I have no excuse to leave my computer. I usually talk myself out of buying the in-flight internet so there are minimal distractions, and I can just get to the nasty business of writing a scene or a blog entry without worry of being interrupted or tempted by an invitation to meet friends at a bar.

Also, being in a new place for a few days is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. I read this post last month at Writing Forward about how getting yourself out into the world can give you all kinds of new ideas and inspiration for your writing. I thought of it when I was at JFK airport and I saw a woman get on an escalator as if she’d never seen or heard of an escalator before. She was walking towards the base of it and stopped, staring in awe for a few moments, before going hesitantly forward and putting a shaky foot on the first moving step. She rode it up, looking around in amazement that no one else thought that this was the most amazing contraption ever invented. It was bizarre, and it made me laugh. I thought of Arthur Weasley from the Harry Potter books, and it gave me the inspiration for a character in my novel.

And, while you would think that working yourself to complete mental and physical exhaustion over a couple of intense work days would stifle creativity, I always find that the opposite is true. Last night, I relaxed in bed in my hotel room watching Legally Blond in a vegetative state, incapable of any kind of higher logic or thinking or even basic math, struggling to find the strength to get up and walk 5 feet to the bathroom to take out my contacts so I could fall asleep. But after sleeping 10 hours, this morning I felt sharp, rejuvenated, and full of clarity. It was like my brain had been scrubbed clean of the built up mess of stress and worry that had been there the week before. I de-cluttered it by exhausting it of all energy and then allowing it to build the basics back up during an uninterrupted night of heavy sleep. I don’t know if that makes sense at all – I’m no good at science – but it works for me.

So now, here in seat 38G, I’m enjoying an uninterrupted 6 hours of writing. Thank you, demanding but amazing job, for affording me time to write that I rarely afford myself.

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