7 Tips to Writing on a Plane

Now, I’ve tried to do writing on a plane.  At least back when I was able to afford tickets and had a reason to go.  There are plenty of ways to make this a fun event even if you’re crammed into a small seat with a stranger nearly on your lap.  Noise, attitude, tension, and all the fun of air travel.  That’s just getting through security too.  Anyway, here are 7 ways to get work done when on a plane:

  1. Most importantly, listen to George Carlin.  Get in the plane.  Safety aside, you can’t get a flight attendant to come out to the wing and those wings are not notebook friendly.  I don’t think there are outlets there either.  Oh, and you might take a migrating bird to the nose.
  2. Do not trust the odd indent in the tray table.  It looks like a cup holder and probably can contain the small cups they give you.  The whole thing is a two-sided trap designed to ruin notebooks and laptops.  One jolt of turbulence and you get a spill.  If not from the cup then the half full can of liquid that won’t fit in the cup and has nowhere to go because you only have one half-baked cup holder.
  3. Take advantage of the pocket on the back of the chair in front of you.  Perfect for putting notes, the stapler that security stopped you about, extra pencils that security wouldn’t let you sharpen, and other necessary supplies.  The best part about this is that when you’re reminded to look for everything you may have brought on board, you know they’re talking to you.  Let’s be honest though.  Something is getting left behind and resulting in you trying to sneak back onto the plane.
  4. Having trouble with a scene?  Well you have a captive listener right next to you.  Bring candy along to make friends or promise them a cameo in the story.  Worst case scenario, you might have to show interest in their lives.  Be careful with that one since it could talk longer than you expected.
  5. They have tiny bottles of alcohol.  Factor that into your budget if that’s your thing.  If not then there are some other goodies that you can indulge in.  Just because you’re sitting in coach doesn’t mean you can’t pretend to be an author in first class.
  6. If turbulence is too much to write comfortably then it’s the perfect time to people watch.  Crying babies, stressed parents, bellowing jackasses, drugged first time fliers, that couple doing what everyone knows they’re doing, the snoring guy that has blocked you from getting to the bathroom, and so many interesting people.  Uh, stop staring at the couple, buddy.  Don’t be creepy.
  7. Daydreaming can count as progress if you aim it correctly.  Let’s be honest.  Sometimes a plane is too bumpy, cramped, and smelly to focus.  Blast your music and you get complaints from those who were interrupting your work.  Just stare ahead, refuse to blink, and laugh at random intervals.  I’m sure nothing will seem suspicious.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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27 Responses to 7 Tips to Writing on a Plane

  1. You have some good ideas here. I usually use number 7 – daydreaming. I use the flight as a time for creativity. But your suggestions make sense. I need to better management this time. I can actually rip off a chapter or two depending on the length of the flight.

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  2. Having spent 50 years on airplanes every week this one was a hoot. I remember trying to write and the guy next to me kept asking what I was doing. I think he thought I was doing surveillance on him.

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  3. Haha I love your warning for #4. Talking to people is great for inspiration, but DAMN can they go on and on and on and on. Plus, when you’re on a plane, there’s no way you can escape if the conversation keeps going. Ahhhhhhhh. I’m getting frustrated just thinking about it lol.

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    • I’ve actually never been stuck next to a talker. Snorer, space hogger, whiner, and farter. Never a talker. Think I’d prefer that to the last one on that list.

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      • Worst of all is the parent with small, loud, obnoxious child, in my opinion. Adults, you have some hope of talking down from whatever irritating activity they’re engaging in. Children aren’t quite as willing to cooperate, lol. And babies! Don’t get me started on crying babies on airplanes. I get that they have places to be, but OH MY GOODNESS.

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      • Honestly, I’m not exactly sure where you’re going with this. At least the second line. Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that many babies are crying because they’re in pain. Babies and small children are very sensitive to the change in air pressure, so their ears are either clogged or simply in pain. I had to look this up when I took my son (age 2) on a plane. There are earplugs for kids that stop the pressure from causing trouble, but they’re very hard to find.

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  4. Hmm, I’d just woken up when I wrote that and didn’t explain myself properly. Let me clarify. Babies and little kids, I totally get. They’re in pain, they don’t really understand what’s going on — totally understandable. I always feel sorry for the little tykes when they start crying. It’s the older kids that tick me off — the ones who kick the back of the seats, or start fighting with their siblings, or play on their iPad with the volume turned to max. Or maybe it’s the parents’ fault for not teaching them proper plane etiquette? I don’t know (not a parent yet, so no frame of reference for me!)

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    • The parents definitely have to step in at that point. I figured that was part of it, which is why I only mentioned the babies and toddlers. I think one part of it is that some people are naturally jerks and putting in enclosed spaces with others never ends well. I remember one guy kept leaning his chair back to the point where I couldn’t use my tray. Didn’t stop even when asked. Kids are a tougher call at times because you can’t do much unless the parents step in.

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  5. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    As someone who writes on a plan (I’m actually typing this comment on one right now as I fly into Phoenix), Charles nails it with these tips.

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  6. M. L. Kappa says:

    I think it should be compulsory for authors to get an upgrade to first class. Because they need to work, duh.

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