The keys to a smooth overseas trip with a toddler are a lot like those for tackling a writing project, according to Kendall Richmond.
As I boarded an international flight with my one-year-old, I knew it would be different from our first overseas trip together. For one thing, my son was no longer an infant who was content to sit and play in my lap. He was now an enthusiastic walker and climber, always in motion. Plus, this time I didn’t have a pair of extra hands.
But I decided to approach the trip as an adventure and a learning opportunity (for both of us). Sure enough, the principles that helped me get through a long-haul flight with a wriggly bubba apply equally well to tackling a writing project.
So, here are five writing lessons I learned while traversing the Pacific with my one-year-old:
- Have a plan – Long before arriving at the airport, I’d set a plan for the ‘day’ on the plane. I packed a few select toys and books, old and new, and plenty of snacks. Likewise, starting a writing assignment requires a plan. Account for researching, drafting, interacting with stakeholders and revising. Always build in some extra time for the unexpected too. (That’s what my new toys were for!)
- Be adaptable – Follow the first guideline, but be flexible. There’s nothing like being in a confined area for hours on end to make even the most consistent kid throw a few curveballs. Similarly, writing assignments are likely to change in terms of scope, goals, direction and creative preferences. Expect to make some adjustments (revising is often the bulk of writing after all).
- Forget about judgment – While flying with my son, I found most people were incredibly kind and super helpful. But there were moments where I’m sure other passengers questioned my sanity. Instead of thinking about what they thought, I stayed focused on my kid. The same goes for writing. Focus on the end goal. If you worry too much about judgment, you’ll never take any chances.
- Accept help – There are inevitable moments of awkwardness flying alone with a kid. You’re often juggling bags, half-eaten snacks and a squirmy little one at the same time. So, accept help when it’s offered – with a smile of-course. As reluctant as I was initially to ask for a hand, I learned to say yes when someone offered to grab my overhead bags or to retrieve a toy that was thrown down the aisle. The same applies to your writing. If there’s an opportunity to team up with someone to get research done or a chance to get some constructive feedback, take it.
- Take it one hour at a time – I resisted looking at the real-time flight tracker on the screen at my seat – even though it was soooo tempting – and approached the flight in small increments instead. By breaking it up into activities for my son (walking the aisles, reading a book, having a snack, changing for bedtime) I found time went more quickly. When it comes to writing, set out stepping stones in the same way. Think of small, achievable milestones. Plan what you want to achieve in an hour or a day of work. Then set the next goal.
Admittedly, I was exhausted when my son and I landed. But I was also amazed at how resilient and adventurous my little guy is – and I was inspired. If he can happily venture across the world at such a young age, surely I can handle any writing task.
And you can too.
If you are a writer and a parent who loves to travel too, check out the site babieswhotravel.com – it’s loaded with tips. And if you want to improve your peerless prose, then read this great post on how to proof read your own writing.