I’m on a train today, heading up to England’s capital of London. The snack trolley has just gone past and the aroma of strong coffee is swirling about the carriage making me wish I’d bought one.

My favourite trick when I’m on a train, even when I’ve been on the journey several times before, is to stare out of the window. I don’t know what I’m looking for. I’m pretty sure the trees and buildings won’t have changed that much from the last trip, and the rail network is unlikely to have decided to reroute the railway lines so I get a different view each time. Still, as standard, me on a train equals me looking out the window.

Today is different. Today I have my NetBook. And more than that. I’ve actually got the NetBook out!! (Cue stunned gasps.)

The journey to London takes about one and a half hours, ample time to get some decent writing done, and, if you’re lucky enough to get a train with a table (today, I’m lucky), then you even have somewhere to write.

So, here for you today, I am laying out the pros and cons of trying to write on a train.


  • Makes good use of time – instead of staring out the window doing nothing, you are being productive
  • Not too bumpy – usually OK for pen and paper writing, and, if you have a NetBook, even the bumpy parts of the journey don’t affect you
  • Inspiration – the views can be inspiring (as can train travellers) and give you fodder for your story
  • Your story gets written faster – particularly if you regularly have an hour’s commute each way to work (as I do)


  • Can be bumpy – if you’re physically writing, using a pen and paper, this can be difficult
  • Distractions – people with music up too loud and families whose kids are screaming
  • You’re on an aisle seat and the person by the window needs to get off – if you’re anything like me, that means gathering up your coat, your NetBook, your bag, and anything else you may have out – not the easiest thing to do
  • Dirty looks – not too sure your friends and family will look favourably on you writing rather than talking to them, if they’re on the train with you

When I’m travelling on my own, and I can convince myself to stop staring out the window, I find I can get a lot of writing done. It’s probably one of my most productive writing places (and it’s a heck of a less bumpy than the bus – but that’s another post).

What about you? Are train journeys view-fests? Or do you feel like you’ve accomplished something at the end of them (besides arriving where you’re supposed to, which is always an accomplishment for me ;))?

Image: Jomphong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net