Little did we know, In October of 2018 Hurricane Michael would change our lives. Due to the mandatory evacuation for this category five hurricane, we fled; however, as soon as the phone rang, indicating a call from a family member who had stayed, I just knew the news wasn't going to be good.
"You might want to find somewhere to stay," he had said. "It's bad."
En route back home, we stopped by an RV dealership and returned "home" with our new house on wheels.
Our family member was right, it wasn't good; the house still stood, but a gaping hole was in the roof, windows were busted, and there were signs of major water damage.
To make matters worse, that season ended up marking one of the highest years of rainfall in Florida history... much to the dismay of Hurricane Michael victims. As if the storm itself wasn't bad enough, what could have possibly been rectified was ruined by the onslaught of rain we received in the following months. Despite tarps and boards, mold grew and thrived throughout several rooms in the house, to the point where we had no choice but to stop going in there. And the mosquitoes. Oh my word, the mosquitoes. Our house and yard was infested.
Mother Nature is a funny thing. As I type this, my view through our RV window is of brown and crisp grass; we haven't seen a drop of rain in three weeks.
Traveling has always been a dream of mine. So, imagine my excitement when we decided to make that dream become a reality! If we can't use our "home," might as well make the most of our new RV, right?
Traveling in an RV isn't all it's cracked up to be...
Fate promises something will undoubtedly go wrong every time you hit the road. This is apparently a thing... so says other RV travelers on Google.
Sure enough, that was the case for us. Within the first three hours of our travels, we had not one, but two tire blowouts. What's more, the second blowout tore a hole in the floor of our RV and nicked a water pipe.
Other than that, we arrived at our destination safely (if not a little frazzled).
Being without water for two days wasn't so bad... not after we were without it (and electricity) for fifteen days after the hurricane. Being without internet for a week longer than we'd planned was a different story altogether. Oh, and I almost died a la bicycle ride.
But those two bits of information -- among other things -- are exclusive behind-the-scenes details for my Patreon members only.
...even so, the experience was still as amazing as I'd expected.
We got to spend more quality time as a family!
Like bike riding...
Which almost killed me...
Ah, but I digress.
Coffee shop write-ins and meeting other authors and readers, topped the cake though.
Oh, and going to Disney with my boys. Seriously, it truly is the "Happiest Place on Earth."
Those hardcore, business-building writers out there might still be stuck on the part where I said "we got to spend more time as a family." Also, you're probably waiting for me to get to the "How I wrote and managed my business while traveling part."
Routine was key.
Okay, so... I'm one of those people. While I can be adventurous and lively, I'm mostly a hermit who loves to stick to a schedule. Take the schedule away and I am a ball of stress.
This time was no different. Except I didn't have a schedule going in, because I didn't know what to expect.
Being away from home, we had a lot more extracurricular activities planned, and those activities clashed with my goal to test out working my business as an addition to our travel plans. This wasn't really a vacation. It was us testing out a new, and hopefully reoccurring, lifestyle.
Life on the road.
We had our downtime "scheduled" -- meaning I knew when I wasn't supposed to work -- and we had a work schedule in place. But working when out of your usual comfort zone is a fickle beast. My mind was often everywhere except for where I needed it to be...
The coffee shop trips were a total bust for me. Why? Because my mind was being over-stimulated. Yes, seriously. I'm accustomed to being in my house, in the middle of nowhere, with only my children around to distract me (and I'm well practiced at tuning out those particular distractions during work time.)
The over-stimulation didn't stop at the coffee shops though; it stuck to me like glue.
Who am I kidding; even back at "home base" my mind is flighty. On its best day it seems the stars need to align and pigs need to fly in order for me truly be able to focus on writing. Anyone else?
Desperate to kick the trend and make this The Travel Author gig really work, I put on my nerd hat and started tracking my habits and distractions using a combination of the Timing App for Mac and QualityTime for my Android phone. The goal was to find my most productive and focused hours so I could convert that time into words...
Using the Pomodoro method.
The what?! In short, you alternate between work blocks and breaks in 25-minute and 5-minute intervals respectively. For writers, this means you use the 25-minute blocks to write, distraction free.
With those aforementioned productivity management tools, I learned my most productive hours begin around one o'clock in the afternoon. As soon as I'd deduced the best time of day to write, I downloaded the Be Focused app for my Mac to help time the sessions, and it was time to put the Pomodoro method to the test.
The result was astounding...
3k words in 2.5 hours.
Umm, Mr. Pomodoro, where have you been all my life?! How could a method so simple, produce such great results?! Considering my average is 200-500 words per hour, and the fact this method had me more than doubling that number... I'd say my first session was a win.
Now, to use that same technique to nail the business side of this author gig. Blog posts, Patreon, social media campaigning, graphics design, sales and marketing... good gravy there's a lot to do.
With a schedule and a bit of discipline, I was able to also find my most productive "business" hours, and use the Pomodoro method to cut the distractions and manage my to-do list in a streamlined manner.
For the first time ever, my business and writing schedule actually worked.
When my allotted work days ended, my mind was free and clear and I was able to focus on the most important thing of all... my family.
The next big trip can't come soon enough! Hopefully we'll be able to do something else between now and then as well. Until then, The Travel Author bids you adieu ;)
Happy writing and traveling!