Looking for the zone

I’m a bit of a creature of habit. I rarely worry about what to have for breakfast because I eat the same thing five days a week:


Every morning and every night I kiss the same hunky guy:

[photo redacted because Fodder says he refuses to be fodder for my online life]

I sit in the same chair each night:


I try to clock the same minimum word count each night:





Since January 2013, I’ve been traveling a great deal for my day job. Like 2-3 weeks out of a month in some months. That means my productivity has dropped dramatically.

But I have ideas. Tons of ideas. Airport-inspired plot bunnies hop around in my brain, begging for attention. I can’t tell you how many scenes have played out in my head whilst I was trapped watching another endless PowerPoint presentation. I know I’m getting desperate to write when I catch myself using the word “Sexy” to describe a spreadsheet to another colleague.


It’s so hard for me to focus on the story when I’m not in my natural habitat, but I have got to get some of this out. I know I’m not the only author to wrestle with writing outside of the comfort zone. I sure could use some advice.

Anyone have any tips or tricks to keep me in line?


Oh! Since I wrote this post, I did receive a little inspiration in my inbox. Wanna see? Here’s the cover for my upcoming Harlequin-E Contemporary release, The Last First Date – coming in June 2014!

The Last First Date by Maggie Wells

The Last First Date by Maggie Wells



Looking for the zone — 13 Comments

  1. Beautiful cover Maggie. Best of luck with the new book!

    We all have our comfort zones, places where we’re the most productive. Do you ever write in your hotel room after work? I accompanied my husband on his business trips a few times and wrote in the hotel while he was at work. Of course, he was the one who was watching the power-point presentations all day, not me. But that was some of my most productive times. I hope you can find something that works for you!

    • Thanks, Jana. I have and I do when I can. Nothing worse than business all day, then the requisite dinner that night to kill an entire evening. It’s a little hard to get things flowing when I’m on the road, but if I can get the time, I do try to eke out at least a few paragraphs.

  2. I used to be that soldier – traveling 2-3 weeks out of the month for the day job. and yes, it KILLED my writing productivity. The only way I could get writing done was to work at the hotel in the evenings which meant:
    1) I hid the remote and unplugged the TV as soon as I checked in. Never turning it on was key.
    2) No booze with dinner (this hurt)
    3) If I had to do client dinner, I ate very lightly. If I could do dinner on my own (ideal), light food from grocery store worked best
    4) Turned off internet and sat at desk for X hours (usually 3)

    Good luck – I sympathize!

    • I may have to do the hide the remote thing. Funny, I rarely turn on the television at home, but for some reason it’s always on in the hotel room. I think it’s to take the edge off being in the room alone. The dinner thing is what can be a productivity killer. Nothing like getting back to the room at 9pm and trying to catch up on the day. Thanks for your tips, Jeffe!

      • Funny – we don’t even have TV at home, so I literally never watch it. But hotel rooms… it’s a weird thing. I climb into bed and channel surf into oblivion. I think it’s the weird sterility and loneliness, the exhaustion of travel and being “on” all day, and a strange kind of self-soothing. I may have watched three hours of the top beach bodies count down at some point…

  3. I’m like Jana–I love writing in hotels, particularly hotel dining rooms or coffee shops. I’ve done edits for several books in state park lodges, where I sit with coffee and laptop and beautiful scenery. Also like Jana, I don’t have to look at power-points. I think the thing that saved my writing life was that I don’t like or watch TV.

    I loved your post and that cover!

  4. A few years ago, my husband worked out of town for a project that lasted several months. I was able to travel with him several of those weeks. It was perfect because while he was at his day job I was able to write all day. I got so much done.

    Jeffe’s tips sound great. I need to apply them here at home so I can get more writing done.

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