Monday, November 24, 2014

A Writer's Guide To Holiday Travel

As we get deeper and deeper into the holiday season, many of us are finalizing preparations to visit family for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Some of us are traversing countries, or even continents. The holidays come with some built-in travel, and as in any situation, it's best if we writer's are prepared. So here are a few things to make sure you've got in your carry-on.

Laptop/Notebooks. This is the most important thing to have. I know the holidays can be completely chaotic and crazy. They are for me, and I'm typically not great at writing when I'm visiting family. My goal is to do better at that this year, and one obviously needs their word processor or notebook in order to write. If you're limited on space, save your projects as word docs and use the computers at whatever relatives your visiting. And of course, make sure you have your creative writing notebook with you wherever you go. As always.

Books. Again, this is a given. I suspect that for most of us the issue is narrowing down our options. Make things easier on yourself by choosing paperbacks and ebooks. And may I recommend a subscription to You get a free audiobook just for signing up, and those are fantastic options for long car rides. I also recommend bringing poetry and short story collections, as those are easier to ingest in the quick, low-focus chunks of time you're likely to have when surrounded by relatives.

Headphones. To give yourself some music or background noise to help you focus while little ones play around you.

Camera. The holidays provide great moments to record for possible story ideas, and blog and social media posts. With the appropriate permissions, of course.

Plan your writing schedule. I know that for my family, once everything gets going we go and go until we're all basically asleep on our feet. But the thing is, we don't usually really get going until after lunch. That means for me, if I can get a bit of writing in earlier on in the day, then I get the writing done and don't miss or interrupt the Russian teacake baking and Muppet Christmas Album singing and the Jim Carey quote wars. (I can't miss that because I always win. No child can defeat the Grinch.) Basically, figure out the best way for you to incorporate writing into the holiday schedule. It may not be your normal schedule, and you may not get your normal amount done, but at the very least you can keep your momentum going.

Collaboration ideas. I have some siblings who also occasionally enjoy writing stories, and we've had some fun times doing the back and forth collaboration thing. Or maybe your cousin plays the guitar, and the two of you can write a funny Christmas song with which to annoy your aunts and uncles. Or maybe your aunt is a great artist and the two of you work on a book to give to your Grandma. Whatever your situation, holidays can be a fun time to collaborate, and I believe any creative endeavor is worthwhile.

What do you think? What other supplies and strategies can we writer's use in our holiday travels?

Write on!

Sarah Allen

This Week on Social Media:


  • Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition: We’re looking for short stories! Think you can write a winning story in less than 1,500 words? Enter the 15th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition for your chance to win $3,000 in cash, get published in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a paid trip to our ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference! Due Dec. 15.
  • NPR Selected Shorts Contest: First Prize is $1000,  plus a scholarship for a 10 week course at the Gotham Writers' Workshop. Your story will be read to a national audience by a well-known actor. Due March 15.
  • McNeese ReviewMcNeese Review, the literary journal of McNeese State University in Louisiana, is reading submissions for Issue 52, to be released February 2015. Send in your best short fiction, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, interviews, and original black and white art and photos. We value clarity of image, complex worldviews, genuine emotion, character, coherency, compression, and all the right words put in interesting combinations. Due Dec. 1
  • Split Lip Press: Split Lip Press welcomes submissions of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry for the first volume in its new book series, Utter Foolery: The Best Global Literary Humor, 2015. We’re looking for writing that makes us laugh, yes, but we’re also looking for work that shows a deep understanding of humor’s ability to elucidate serious subjects and disturbing truths. Due Nov. 30
  • In Fact Books: In Fact Books (US) seeks original stories that address — either directly or obliquely — the trials of living with mental illness for an upcoming anthology tentatively titled Beyond Crazy: True Stories of Surviving Mental Illness. Stories should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element, reaching beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. Length: 4500 words max



  1. I never go anywhere without my laptop ;-)

  2. I always travel with my iPad and headphones.

  3. Great advice, Sarah. I already figured most of it out, but not without difficulty. Writing early in the day is the best bon mot.

  4. I'm not going anywhere over the holidays. I'm going to stay home, relax, and write. Best vacation ever!

  5. Great advice. Great to travel with ipad!

  6. I bought a tablet and a case with a Bluetooth keyboard. Greatest traveling companion in the world.


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