(This blog originally appeared here)
Like many Americans, I spend an insane amount of time in the car commuting to work every day, an hour back and forth each way. My hours are early, seven am to three pm, which means getting up at five thirty every morning before everyone else does. At first, I dreaded the commute…the leaving the house in the dark, the constant battle with traffic, the stress of moving at a snail’s pace in a sea of red lights.
Then one day, my late father-in-law, someone who used to commute 120 miles a day, told me I needed to busy myself with something to do in the car. With what? I asked him. Well, you can listen to the news, or read an audiobook, or just think about anything you want, he said.
Ah…eight years later, I’m doing exactly that and though not loving my drive, I’ve learned so much along the way, including how to write and publish my first novel!
Here are the top five things I did during my commute to help me develop my novel, Song of the Blackbird:
- Listen to audiobooks on how to write. My favorite was Stephen King’s On Writing, which not only inspired but also taught me a lot about the craft.
- Let my mind wander and dream. That commute is my time away from the demands of the outside world. I’ve learned to treasure it as my personal time and space. No interruptions. No phone calls. No checking emails. Simply a time to relax, lean back, and dream. Dream about how two opposite characters can fall in love such as Maxim and Emma did in my novel.
- Listen to audiotapes from the RWA National Conference lectures and workshops. Boy, these are worth their weight in gold, teaching not only the craft of writing but also the business of writing and publishing.
- Talking to my editor on the phone. Once I wrote my book, I used the commute time to talk with professionals who definitely helped make my book and its launch better.
- Listen to audiobooks for fun from my favorite authors. Reading has always been my first love and the more nourishment I get from reading, the happier I become and the better I write.
Though I don’t love my commute, I tolerate it a lot better now and in an odd way, I don’t think I would have written my first novel without having the time and space during my long drive to think, dream, and plan. I’ve recently purchased Dragon Dictation to see if I can dictate parts of my next novel while driving and am very excited to try it out. Has anyone used Dragon and what do you think of it? What do you do in your commute that you’ve found useful and relaxing? Please write back and share your thoughts.