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10 Things a Writer Shouldn't Do When Driving

Pen to PaperPosted by Ian Ashley Thu, October 16, 2014 07:02PM

Writer beware! It’s a very distracting business Part II

10 Things a Writer Shouldn’t Do When Driving

Stop at accident scenes

Unless you are a qualified medical professional it is not nice to be seen elbowing your way through the rescue teams with your note book in hand crying ‘let me through I’m a writer!’ Other people will not understand that you might need a car crash scene one day and even dead people have relatives and lawyers.

Look for possible character inspiration whilst passing bus stops.

At best this could be seen as kerb crawling. If you do it whilst the schools are coming out then it’s seen as something much worse. Society will be quick to judge and so will the police especially if you have a bag of sweets in the glove compartment and a One Direction CD.

Wind down your window in times of stress

Of course all writers are human but yelling ‘arsehole!’ at a pedestrian who has stepped in front of your car is ok for other people, but not for you. Home town book signings are fraught with enough danger without a loud pointy finger going ‘That’s the one!’ The same goes for parking bay disputes. ‘Local writer in family bay slapping ’ may seem trivial to you but remember Mumsnet? It’s not all cupcakes and willy-washing you know – some of their conversations are quite serious.

Slow down and follow an interesting looking person.

Not only is this allied to kerb crawling, especially at night, but some people have weak hearts and might find it stressful. You may call it an accident. A judge might view it as manslaughter. In which case carry a weapon, preferably a sharp one, then you can plead social deprivation and you’ll get away with it.

Try out dialogue when stopped at traffic lights.

This one is probably not going to get you arrested as you could be talking hands-free. But put yourself in a reader’s shoes. How many of us have witnessed an in-car mobile phone conversation and thought – ‘bet they’re a writer’? Not many. Most people will just think you have mental health issues because that’s exactly what it looks like.

See driving as an ideal time to try out that creative writing exercise.

Experiencing sensory deprivation may help with your descriptive passages but do you need to know what flying through a windscreen smells like, tastes like, sounds like? I’d say not. But you do need to look where you are going. At all times please.


I think that’s clear enough don’t you?

Have eureka moments whilst approaching roundabouts.

Other drivers may not share your joy at finally working out how the body got into the suitcase and who put it there. They are only aware that traffic from the left is supposed to stop. Executing a sharp turn across two lanes because you’ve just realised you were in the wrong lane won’t win you any friends either.

Talk to others about your book whilst behind the wheel.

After 200 miles you might still be blinded by your own brilliance. Your passengers will just feel trapped, especially if your car has child proof locks. If it doesn’t then assisted suicide is still an offence. You have been warned.

Take advantage of hitchhikers

Nothing sexual here, but not everybody with a mobile device wants to log on to Amazon and buy your book immediately. Allow them to say ‘later’, and leave it at that. Threatening to abandon them on a lonely country road during a thunderstorm may get you a sale but it’s also likely to get you a 1* review.

… I know it’s hard but do try and leave the writer behind the desk when you’re behind the wheel. After all I may be coming the other way with a knotty plot issue of my own….

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