Writing on Rails

Writers are notorious for writing in strange places. James Joyce wrote in bed, Agatha Christie composed in the bathtub, Edith Sitwell did her best work while lying in an open coffin. Having a ritual for writing — a special place or writing instrument — is often recommended to beginners in the craft as a way to channel their creativity. I’ve never been one of those writers.

I’ve written on notebooks and laptops. In the middle of the night and in the early morning hours. At my desk, on my couch, on the floor and on airplanes. But it wasn’t until now that I discovered the perfect place to write every single day.

British author (and secret agent) John le Carré used his 90-minute train commute to and from London as an opportunity to pen his famous spy novels. I have a similar, 40-minute (each way) train ride to my place of employment. It’s perfect. Dedicated time to myself to write without interruption. I don’t have to worry about traffic on the I-5. I am free to write while conductor takes care of the driving.

I’ve been writing over 1,000 words a day since I started taking the Sounder train. Every writer needs a ritual. The clatter of the tracks and the sounding of the horn is mine. The start and stop at train stations regulates my writing schedule and there is a romantic quality to riding this old fashioned mode of transport.

Why would any writer choose to sit on the highway when they could be writing the next great American novel on their way to work?

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Jonny Eberle has been in love with trains since he was a boy. He is a writer, photographer and ferroequinologist in Tacoma, WA. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

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Leaving on a Jet Plane
Discovering the Write Place

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