Joining the Mile High Club

A writer’s guide to flying

editing writing

A few days ago I set off for my first visit to the great and beautiful west of Canada from Toronto, Ontario. It was somewhat of a spontaneous flight, having only decided it and booked it the day before. For those who know me on a more personal level, this is rather uncharacteristic move to make, especially when it comes to flying. The number of times I have flown in an airplane (not withstanding the return flights) I can count on one hand and the act of flying has never been an overly enjoyable one for me.

Don’t get me wrong; I love traveling, but the lack of leg room makes being 6’4” on a plane rather… uncomfortable.

flying bathroom So at this point, for those readers who are expecting a steamy romantic encounter tens of thousands of miles up in the air, I’ll have to disappoint. Also, I invite you to think of the actual physical act of having such an encounter on an airplane. Have you ever seen those bathrooms? They’re basically just Port-A-Potties with wings.

Even if you do manage to sneak two people passed the flight attendants who stand like they’re guarding the Holy Grail: first, give yourself a round of applause because that shit ain’t easy; next, lament the fact that you’re in a friggin’ airplane washroom half the size of the average closet and unless you’re a Cirque de Soleil performer, the next five to seven minutes you have to get back to your seat before people get suspicious (if they aren’t already) is likely to be the most uncomfortably awkward minutes of your sexual history.

So if I’m not writing the next Sylvia Day book in a blog form, what am I talking about? Well to be honest, I’m on a plane and there’s not much to do. So since I can’t escape my computer as I usually can, here I am. Whilst I am here, I thought it would be a good idea to offer some general tips on writing on a plane, in case you also find yourself in a similar position someday.

flying on a plane1. Drink. No I’m not kidding, nor am I talking about water. Find the hardest liquor that the plane stocks and keep an open tab. The person beside you WILL attempt to initiate conversation by dropping “not-so-subtle” hints that they’d like to talk about their three cats Harry, Larry, and Gary back home.

If that fails, they WILL attempt to find out what you’re doing and when you reluctantly answer, “I’m a writer,” they will enthusiastically respond, “Oh neat! What have you written? Have I heard of it? Is it on Oprah’s Bookclub?!” To which you may be forced to recoil in embarrassment and exponential losses in self-worth as you explain that, “This is my first book” or “I’m not published yet.” Alternatively, after the third or fourth drink you may quizzically respond to such inquiries with, “I don’t have a friggin’ clue…” To which they will respond with a look of confusion and uncertainty, but ultimately: silence. Congratulations! Close your tab because your blood-alcohol level has reached its maximum potential and given you the gift of avoiding nosy and persistent conversation. You can now proceed to be a recluse BUT perhaps if you’re lucky: a productive recluse.

2. Earplugs or Headphones are a MUST. You think, “Oh I’ll get used to that crying baby and be able to write.” Well…that is quite possibly the stupidest thing you have ever thought. That baby has the endurance of a puppy and will incessantly wallow for your 5-hour flight without the slightest waiver or hint of fatigue. It may even encourage its fellow infant passengers to join in! So I repeat: earplugs or headphones are a MUST.

plane3. Get up and walk around no matter how many evil glares you get from those filled seats beside you who are really just jealous they don’t have a window seat. At about the two-hour mark, at least for me, I start to feel my joints undergo what I can only describe as a stiffening or “drying up” process.

Mobility of your knees begins to feel laborious and your hips /start to feel like they are the load-bearing wall at the bottom of the Leaning-Tower of Pisa. Getting up allows you to not only stretch your limbs, but it is proven that getting up and moving during prolonged periods of work actually improves circulation to the brain that can help to improve productivity and maybe even creativity. It also allows the option of checking out that person a few rows up you haven’t gotten to see since they got on but you seem to remember them being sexy as all get out.

4. They aren’t. Sit down and stop embarrassing yourself, you stalker.

5. Take a Gravol. Everything you write on a plane is going to be crap (If you are skeptical, read this post for proof). The airplane is the least inspiring place you could possibly write so, enjoy a nice snooze on your way to your destination and get inspired by that rather than the 45-year old man in front of you who apparently decided living off of ONLY bean salad was a good idea.

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