Small Spaces and Long Drives

May 19, 2010 at 6:17 am (Author Info, Planning, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

I spent the weekend in a small car hurtling along a road that I suppose should be called a highway (it was certainly named so on the map).  I will point out that the only thing holding the road together was the roadkill and the only good thing about it being a highway was that you were travelling fast enough that you never really had to look at what you were driving over – eww.

What do you do on long car rides?

I can’t read in the car.  I can’t watch movies or play games or do anything that might stop me from becoming mind-numbingly bored because as soon as I do I get dreadfully sick.  So when I wasn’t behind the wheel and wishing that I didn’t have to focus on the small lumps smearing the road ahead what was there to do? (Conversation is of course out of the question given the driver doesn’t want to be distracted and the other passengers were trying to sleep.)

Well, I ended up doing what I always do when stuck somewhere with nothing to do.  I planned.

Before I left on the trip I had just started a new scene for my current WIP and was unhappy with how it had begun.  While I was staring out the window at the brown grass spreading in every direction, I played the scene through in my head.  Then I reversed and added a different beginning.  That didn’t really work, so I tweaked something else.  I continued to play with the scene in my head until I finally played it through and realised it was perfect. All of the issues I’d been having were resolved.

And only six hours to go until I could find a pen to write it all down in a notebook so that when I got home I could try to fix the scene for real.

What do you end up doing on long car rides?



  1. Elizabeth Spann Craig said,

    I usually have either my WIP or my blog running through my head. I do have a notebook in my lap, just in case I have a spot to jot things down without endangering other drivers!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. twaddleoranything said,

    I can’t do anything but think on drives, either. Spacing out while in the car (if I’m not the one driving, of course!) is often one of my most mentally productive times — along with just before I fall asleep and while I’m in the shower. 🙂

  3. Lynn Rush said,

    Wow. You can’t read or write or anything like that? Big time bummer.

    On long car rides, I have my lap top roared to life and am typing away on my latest project.

    But, hey, sitting and thinking through scenes and stuff works well too. We all need time to do that as well, you know?

    Great post.

  4. levimontgomery said,

    I have come to believe that the road trip is a dying art. When I’m in a car, as the driver or as a passenger, all I want to do is watch the road go by. To watch the other cars, the scenery, the drivers and passengers around me, that little old man by the side of the road with his plastic bag and his stick-with-a-nail-in-it, picking up cans. Look, right there! You didn’t see him? Get your nose out of that laptop, for cryin’ out loud! This is life, passing you by out there!

    I look at the modern family car, with its seatback DVD players, its built-in theater-quality sound system, its near-complete isolation from the life around it, and I feel a little sad for its occupants.

    On the 23rd of this month, I’m flying to South Carolina to pick up my daughter, who is graduating from the United States Navy Nuclear Power Training Command, and we will be driving back to the west coast in her Jeep Cherokee. Lacey wants to see “New York City, a Great Lake (any Great Lake), and the Grand Canyon.” Other than that, and given that we can only take two to three weeks, anything goes.

    I can’t wait!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Despite getting sick in cars, I love driving and enjoying the scenery, but if I’ve been down the road before and nothing much has changed, the hours can start to drag. Particularly as it was only a few months ago that I travelled that road in the first place. We did see a very cool shooting star and nearly hit a kangaroo (and an eagle – those things are slow to take off). I’m pleased to say we didn’t add to the number of struck animals on the road.

      Have fun on your road trip. Sounds like a great drive.

  5. Carol Kilgore said,

    We just returned from two long rides. I’m having trouble with a character, so mostly I thought about him and how to make him better. Between talking. Husband is a chatterbox.

  6. AlexJ said,

    I prefer to drive as I can’t concentrate on anything else without getting sick. So either way, I’m bored.

  7. Jemi Fraser said,

    I usually read or do crosswords. Now that I have a laptop I’ll probably bring it along 🙂 I’m lucky I don’t get sick (my sister does so I know it can be rough)

  8. jannatwrites said,

    Like you, I get carsick if I read 😦 If the sun isn’t blaring through the windows on me, I can get away with working on my laptop. If the laptop doesn’t work out, then I hook the kids up with the DVD player and actually talk to my husband. When we’re done with that, I let the lines on the road hypnotize me until I fall asleep.

  9. ShenLun said,

    I drive because I get motion/stimulation sickness. were do you go to ? I once went for 3000km road trip by myself to a little town.

    I spent a night a friends place, during the day however i find that the sound of the gps and radio are my best friends.

  10. milkfever said,

    Eye spy, of course. Although, I must admit that can get boring after a while. A far more fun way of passing time is to play the short sentence game, which requires making up a three word sentence for the letters on the number plates of passing cars. So, for example PTS 356 could be pass the salt 356. Yeah, okay, probably not that exciting. I’m easily amused. 🙂

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      When I was young we used to keep a running tally of the colours of each car that drove passed us. Gotta appreciate the small things when in a small metal box screaming down the highway.

  11. kyree90 said,

    Ah, I miss the days when I could read in the car. As I’ve gotten older, I get nauseous when I try. I also can no longer ride the Tilt-A-Whirl or swing on a swing set without getting sick to my stomach. (Getting old stinks!)

    I’ve been known to carry on my characters’ conversations … out loud (when alone) or in my head (when I’m in the car with someone else). I do a lot of plotting that way — but if it’s too long a drive, I’ve forgotten the conversation by the time I can write it down.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I’ve actually found myself arguing outloud with one of my characters. And I can’t actually be upset when people look at me like I’m crazy. Oh well.

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