AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

January 28, 2009

Writing Anywhere, Anytime

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:01 pm

000000012If you write only at your computer, you’re wasting time! How do I know? Because shortly after starting my first novel, I realized if I waited for a quiet moment at the computer, it would take me years to get the thing done. I was toiling as a bank VP’s assistant, lo those many moons ago, and figured if I took a pen and paper with me, writing could be done during the 40-minute subway ride to work. At lunch, out for a walk, whatever, I could get a paragraph here, a page there, and they’d all add up.

Then there were those (frequent) occasions when I had quiet time with my computer, but absolutely zero inspiration to write anything. That’s when I pulled out all those hastily scribbled pages from subway, lunch and park bench, and retyped them into the computer, revising and editing as I went. I wrote my first novel, 100,000 words, in eight months using the “anywhere, anytime” method.

Take a pen and paper with you, just as an experiment, and see if inspiration doesn’t strike in a place you’d least expect. You can chop months, even years, off the time it takes to complete something. All it takes is a pen and paper with you at all times.

Please leave a comment here if you have any tips on the best way to utilize time. I’d love to hear it!



  1. I always carry a notebook or a tape recorder with me, or both.

    Comment by Charles Gramlich — January 28, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  2. I’ve always carried a moleskin notebook at work, as well a leather bound journal whenever I’m not working. Cause when I’m at work or in my car driving and listening to music, that’s where every line is rehearsed or sketch of landscape or charater comes into play. Especially when fishing weather hits and the old country backroads churn with my ipod or my cd player, spitting out stories from Todd Snider,Hayes Carll, Hank Williams Sr. or the Drive-By Truckers, they become my soundtrack for a gritty little story and the rest is worked out on the page. Mixing with my past or my present. Stories come from every moment of life, you just have to write it down. That’s my two cents.

    Comment by Frank Bill — January 29, 2009 @ 6:25 am

  3. Frank, thanks for the great detail. I’ve tried using a tape recorder but I don’t write the same way I speak, so it was awkward. I’ve always wanted one of those inexpensive 30-second recorders than come installed in a pen, and you can say a quick soundbite to remember something.
    PS I like your soundtrack!

    Comment by ashedit — January 29, 2009 @ 7:01 am

  4. I agree with the anytime/anywhere philosophy. I carry around a notebook all the time and make notes. When I’m commuting, I have a digital recorder in the car. I use the recorder to “jot” notes to myself and then have my Mac transcribe the notes from the MP3 files. It’s not always 100% accurate but it’s a nice to have.

    I remember a term for the person who always has to (a) write in front of the computer (b) with X music playing (c) and a special drink and (d) whatever. The problem occurs when those things aren’t present, writers don’t write. I learned to write anywhere using anything when I wrote my first book. It helped a lot.

    Enjoying your blog, BTW.

    Comment by Scott — January 30, 2009 @ 2:00 am

  5. Hi Scott, great to hear from you. Very helpful. I will check out your blogspot. Also, Charles, I’m going to link to you shortly.

    Comment by ashedit — January 30, 2009 @ 2:05 am

  6. I have writing pads in every room in my house for jotting down ideas. Some of the best ideas hit when I’m in the kitchen cooking, so I stop long enough to write down the sentence or paragraph, then go back to work.

    Comment by Sandra Seamans — January 30, 2009 @ 5:20 am

  7. Thanks Sandra!

    Comment by ashedit — January 30, 2009 @ 7:10 am

  8. I make notes when I’m out and about but the only place I can write seriously is at the keyboard. Comes from years with a typewriter, I suppose. I also need total silence.

    Comment by gary dobbs — January 31, 2009 @ 2:56 am

  9. That’s exactly how I do things. When I finally do sit down at the computer, the notes I have scribbled make the dreaded blank screen much less fearsome.

    Comment by Al Tucher — February 5, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  10. Nowadays I carry a reporter’s cassete thing. I never feel odd nattering to myself as I wander around town – enough people are doing it on their mobile phones. I do get odd looks if I ask a question and then promptly answer it – but there you go.
    And – no laughing at the back – I keep a pad and a pen in the loo.

    Comment by Ray — March 5, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

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