By Jaye Sonia
Let me be the first to tell you that pursuing the creative arts you love can be difficult. Writing while you’re on vacation, for instance, is never easy (especially when it’s convention time)! For a game designer, a freelance writer, an artist, or even a game enthusiast, this means keeping abreast of all things new, determining how it impacts your life, and choosing what to incorporate and what to leave behind. At conventions, it means sorting through all of the new products and previewing what’s scheduled for release – all while trying to keep your schedule free to actually enjoy all the cool things about conventions.
Thankfully, we geeks (and the tech enthusiasts that support us), have quite a few tricks up our sleeves to make life easier. For those of us who do this and travel quite a bit (which is common for expatriates and Kuwaitis alike), this means writing or working on the go. Laptop and tablets in hand, we venture out into the great unknown to pursue our passions – and to tell our tales.
In this article, I’m going to share a few of the secrets of how we creative folks get so much done when we’re out of the office.
Keep it in a cloud – Tons of people talk about cloud computing and most of the folks I know in the business world make daily use of these services. We creative folks are no different. If you’re like me (and travel as much as you can) using cloud-based services is not just convenient, it’s essential. Being able to access your project from anywhere in the world means that you can work on your novel on your morning commute or while in the business lounge at your airport. It means making use of every available network (see below) at your disposal and keeping all of your beloved articles backed up. For most of us, it also means having access across a number of devices, be it your phone, laptop, or tablet. Trust me when I tell you; if you can keep it in a cloud, do so.
Log on nicely – Not all of us have international roaming and data packages (I do, but it isn’t cheap), so don’t be afraid to use every available WiFi hotspot at your disposal. While most hotels charge you a daily or even an hourly rate to log on, almost every reputable hotel worldwide has a business center and free WiFi (generally in the lobby) for patrons, as well as guests. Don’t be afraid to ask to use these spots. Most of the time, if you ask very nicely, hotels will give you a temporary password to use their lobby WiFi spots; even if you’re just waiting to meet a friend staying there.
Establish a relationship – When you’re going to conventions (or even vacationing in the same spot repeatedly), find small places you like and frequent them. Tip the staff well and get shake their hands. Because, while the local Starbucks might be awesome, finding those out of the way places – especially those spots independently owned – means you’re far more likely to meet long-term employees, managers, or even the owners. If you can establish a positive relationship with them, there is a far better chance they’ll make their locations as comfortable for you as possible, whether it means giving you that quiet little booth in the back, extra cream for your iced latté, or access to their WiFi. The added bonus, of course, is that you make the world a little smaller in the process. Building bridges with people is always better than burning them.
Prepare – If you know you’re going to working (writing, researching, or finishing that art project) while abroad, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. The less you have to do while away from your office, the better. If you absolutely cannot avoid working on the road, have your outline ready and make good use of your location. Pick a spot that you feel comfortable in and, if you can, make that a place to be productive in. Try to avoid working in highly congested areas, especially if there is the chance of a lot of social interaction. You don’t want to be rude to folks and ignore them. But you don’t want to waste your time, either. If you can get your writing done while the rest of the world sleeps, do it.
Finally – Be flexible. Your time is at a premium so make sure you don’t waste it. That said, don’t keep a schedule so rigid that you miss out on all the wonders around you. If you’re in a new place, take the afternoon off and explore. Meet people and make friends. If you’re not naturally outgoing, go on scouting missions. Find those places you like best and work there. But be open to new things and look for new experiences. Chances are, if you do, you’ll have far more to write home about.