Want to Write? Take a Train

photo_004Yesterday I had a heated debate with a friend about Megabus vs. Amtrak. Megabus is a bus that offers super low fairs if you book your seat well in advance, and every day the price goes up a little bit. Amtrak is the system of trains in the US.

The debate itself is irrelevant (it mostly had to do with which mode of transportation smelled worse), but it reminded me of an article I read recently about Amtrak offering writer’s residencies to authors.

The idea is that a train is a great place to write. It removes you from normal, daily life, and makes you feel like you’re on an adventure, but sitting down and slow-moving scenery as your only distraction. I could totally see writers curling up with a moleskin notebook as the train chugs across America’s heartland.

Plus, a train offers something that every writer needs: A deadline.

In fact, when I was about 13 years old, my family took an Amtrak trip across America. Like most things, I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time, but it was a great way to see the country. A train is a place where you really get to enjoy the journey (perhaps even more than the destination). Of course, I spent half of the trip trying to figure out how to talk to girls on the train. I’ll always love you, Seat 14B, even though we never spoke.

Perhaps the coolest part of this is that the idea was catalyzed and ignited on Twitter. Amtrak saw a tweet from an author who wished that the train system offered residencies for writers, and they ran with the idea. This is something they’re actually going to do. For real.

What do you think? Would a long train ride put you in the mood for writing?

You can apply to Amtrak’s first residency here.