Giving up the morning hassle of driving has freed up a lot more time in my life. Instead of spending two hours a day trying to find a piece of music I like (or not getting angry at the volume of adverts on chat radio) I now spend my life with the pleasure of my fellow commuters on the British rail network (…and I love it so).
Although I don’t get all 120 minutes back I do have half it, and this is fantastic for my productivity. Where I used to have to find some time to sit down and write a few hundred words (because the daily target is three hundred) now I have the perfect amount of time to sit down and tap away at a keyboard.
There is only one place to write and that is alone at a typewriter. The writer who has to go into the streets is a writer who does not know the streets. . . . when you leave your typewriter you leave your machine gun and the rats come pouring through.
— Charles Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man
My personal writing habit is to find a prompt, and just start typing. I don’t sit and ponder the topic too much and just try to find my way as I go. On occasion the whole post will appear fully formed in my headHow to propose), and on others I have pre-thought about the topic for a while (Parenting Jealousy) and the prompt is merely a conduit for me to write it. Mostly though I have to see where the words take me.
The one habit (and I’m unsure as to whether it is good or bad) is that I don’t edit or proof-read. Any errors are my own and there for all to see, but I have an issue with revising anything I have wrote. Sure, I would be able to produce posts of a better quality but these are meant to be reflective of my thoughts and I don’t edit those either.
Doing this for nearly five years I have become adept at typing away for a few paragraphs and judging how long I need to keep going to produce a post of decent length, which is just as well because I am constrained by the time limit (of the Tile Hill to Birimingham New Street train) and also because I type most of this on a tablet. This is an upgrade from my last writing tool which was my phone, although a predictive keyboard and large screen is not the same as typing on an old Nokia.
This is the only equipment I use, there are no notepads and no post-its lying around. Well not real ones anyway, I do have a way of capturing any important thoughts in case I want to write about them (Google Keep) but all it does is create a list of ideas that I never look at.
Which such a minimal work requirement I am lucky that I can ‘work’ anywhere, such as the train. All I need is enough space to stick my elbows out a little (to make the typing easier) and I’m ready to go. I don’t rely on music (although headphones on a train are useful to block the tsh tsh of others) or having a cup of tea to hand. All I need is an idea and a little time to find the space to write.