A couple of months ago, I started working in Washington, D.C. I live in Baltimore, which is reasonably close to the nation’s capitol, but it’s still a fair commute, around 55 miles driving distance and well over an hour travel time. That’s why I don’t drive. I take the train.
Commuting by train doesn’t reduce the travel time, but it makes it a lot easier. Instead of driving, I can read, write, stare out the window, or sleep. Frequently, it’s some combination of the above. With a book and my laptop in tow, I’m ready for anything.
At first, I wasn’t sure how well I could write on the train. It’s not always a quiet environment, nor is it necessarily private. I had visions of the person seated next to me reading my words as I wrote them, while people behind me chattered away to my intense distraction. But it hasn’t turned out that way. Commuters aren’t much interested in what the person next to them is doing, and once I start writing, I’m nearly oblivious to the noise.
Many of my fellow passengers, in fact, are plugged into their cell phones, listening to music. Many others read, either from books or tablets or e-readers. (Book readers like myself seem to be in the minority, but we are still a large minority. Print isn’t dead yet–not by a long shot!) Others close their eyes, possibly to sleep, possibly to shut out the world.
In this environment, I can get sufficiently lost in writing that the journey seems far shorter than it is. Nor, it seems, am I the only one. Just yesterday, a young fellow sitting next to me opened up his laptop and began writing. Although I didn’t read over his shoulder, I couldn’t help but notice his fingers flying almost nonstop until just before we arrived at Penn Station in Baltimore, where he closed up shop and debarked. Whether for work or school or a project of his own, he’d written an impressive quantity during the ride.
We both had discovered the same thing: writing is a great way to commute!