How to Write Efficiently on Planes

Lemme guess. You can relate to this:

Your right elbow is two centimeters from your neighboring passenger’s and if his eyes wander toward your computer screen ONE MORE TIME, you’ll use it. The woman in front of you finally stopped yapping at the top of her vocal capabilities only to recline her chair back so far back it nearly crushes your beloved laptop, ripping you from the end of what was sure to be your most poignant sentence to date. (Crap! What was I saying???) She then snores through your none-too-subtle knee jabs to her back, which seems to trigger a nearby infant’s screaming fit. But you have three uninterrupted hours to WRITE! And dang-nabbit, you’re going to.

How you ask? Here is what’s working—er, um…I imagine would work, for me… 😉

1. Open a document or web page featuring information sure to off-put your neighbor. for example, quickly deters young, embarrass-able males… Self-Pleasure Techniques for Her can stave off a persnickity, anti-feminist female. (Caution: Do not mistakenly use option B for passenger A.)

2. Type I KNOW YOU’RE READING THIS, BUSTER! (Insert more “colorful” terms as desired) in bold, large letters.

3. Gather up your frustration and convert it into writing fuel. Use your anger to strategically kill off the bad guy…your despair to convey the loneliness an imprisoned woman feels knowing she may never pursue her dreams…your humor to write a goofy satire involving a frustrated writer whose trouble-filled plane ride leads to fortune, fame and countless best-sellers… 😉

Ideas to add? I’m all ears. My row buddy might appreciate it, too. (Yeah, YOU!) 

Leave a comment


  1. Hi august. Love the post (and your meet up group)

    Since I travel in coach my problem is not my seat buddies, but space. My laptop does not open far enough on that narrow snack (what snack) tray.

    My solution is to open it up entirely and rest the screen on the back of the seat and type gingerly.

    Someday I’ll get a pad that is designed for writing, until then, its a cramped couple of hours until my old and dented battery dies.

    • Ha…No pain no gain, right? Always an adventure, this writing life… As is your book! More on that soon. 🙂

      Have a fantastic weekend. Hope to see you at Louise’s!

  2. Hi August. I used to travel a lot and I sympathize with your pains to try and get some work done on an airplane. Its a squeeze to use an iPod in economy, let alone a laptop. In fact I gave up and just carried a book with me.
    I guess writing an article in a suitably large font could work. Describing the person next to you under a title HOW TO SPOT IF THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU HAS IBS could do the trick.
    Hope you managed to get something done!

    • Great tips, Nigel. I did get work done, thank goodness. Helped that my neighbor finally fell asleep. (I SWEAR it wasn’t me who put the Nyquil swig in her drink… ;))

  3. Mike

     /  October 10, 2011

    I find I get my best ideas looking over others shoulders on planes. Maybe I should keep that to myself. Oops.

  1. Traveling Tips and Doo-Dads for Writers « August McLaughlin's Blog

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