How to write in airports

After another interminable set of delayed flights and long layovers, I got to thinking about how to make writing comfortable at airports. Et voila, Six steps on how to write better in airports

  1. Silence is golden – Find a quiet spot. I know this is easier said than done at most major airports but there are a few things you can try. Find an empty gate. Even the busiest terminals have one of these. Be sure to keep an eye out for your flight though. If that doesn’t work, try to find a corner in a large cafeteria. Finally, if all else fails, break out your noise cancelling headphones and hack away.
  2. Look outside, not in – Find a seat with a view. It could be the tarmac or it could be something else but I find I write better when I’m not staring at the throng of humanity in front of me.
  3. “Write drunk; edit sober” – Hemingway would have done well at today’s airport bars. On the plus side, you get to have a drink while you write. On the minus side, these places can get rowdy (by airport standards) especially when flights are delayed. Also be prepared to answer questions from nosy people. Some airports now have upscale wine bars with a quiet, discrete atmosphere. Be prepared to pay for the privilege though.
  4. Planning makes perfect – Are you stopping first at an airport with free wifi and then doing a layover at one that doesn’t? Consider doing your editing, blogging and blog-reading at the first airport and writing at the second one. Make sure you take into account walking between gates and changing terminals into determining how much time you will have for writing.
  5. Become a method writer – Have you ever wanted to have an airport scene in your next novel? Well, you are right there, might as well start writing. Immerse yourself in the environment, and write an authentic airport scene.
  6. Imagination not required – Having difficulty describing a character. Look around you. Write short sketches of the people around you and use them in upcoming books. As I write this I see a college girl chatting on the phone about her missed flight while simultaneously twirling her hair, playing with her ipod and holding a book. I know who is going to get murdered in my next book! There is also the older couple sitting with an empty seat between them. The gentleman looks around with his arms crossed while the lady reads a book. There is an asian lady reading a Christie but she is too far away to tell which one, and on and on and on. There are all kinds of people, from all over the globe and of a wide variety of ages.  I see businessmen busy with their cellphones and laptops, a African lady in her vibrant native dress, young lovers holding hands, the stern looking policeman walking around, TSA agents looking busy, an overly hipster guy in his skinny jeans and retro glasses. Pretty much every type of person you would ever want to write about is in front of you.

Do you have a special trick you use while writing at airports? I’m also starting a new series of posts on the best places to write at airport X. These posts will focus on a particular airport and maybe even a single terminal and will consist of my personal experiences while traveling through these airports. Stay tuned.


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