How to write at a thermal spa


a salty croc–the one guest you don’t want to meet at a thermal spa!

Writing at the Spa

 With pleasure I wrote down at the spa,

between dips in the pool, veiled in steam,

under a glistening sky—

a hedonist’s dream.

A jaunt in the sauna, too hot for me,

on a bright orange tube down a thundering slide,

in the FKK* whirlpool for those who are free,

on deckchair and towel,

with notebook and pen,

I wrote my story,

from beginning to end.

The story I wrote at the spa. The poem (attempt) I wrote this morning on the train. It is true: in that bathing paradise, while people wallowed and dreamed, I wrote an entire story.

You might conclude thermal spas are the perfect place to write. Or how about at a lovely desk beside a crackling fireplace? Neither are any good when faced with a blank page and a starved imagination.

My story first came alive in the train, on a bus, standing at a platform, riding an escalator, in another story draft that came to nothing…except that which is most important—food for the imagination. When I sat at the spa all I had to do was put pen to page. The rest took care of itself.

Don’t wait for the perfect time and place to write. If you do, you’ll be waiting forever.

By the way, 2017 is almost upon us. How will your writing year unfold?

If you’re looking for a big start, check out my short story boot camp in Vienna. I’m a tough coach—you won’t get to loaf about the pool, but you just might get to write your dream story!

FKK: Freikörperkultur or nudism

Writing on the bus



Writing on the bus can be bumpy affair. Especially in the city swerving in and out of stops, the big bus wheels bouncing over every pot hole or dished drain. There’s barely leg room to set a notebook upon one crossed knee. The sun glares through the window, and by the aisle people brush past. Writing on the bus is a challenge. But if you commute by bus every day, it provides a unique writing opportunity. Consider the math:

1 bus trip every working day for 20 minutes = 100 minutes or 1 hour and 40 minutes

 If a person writes both in the morning and the afternoon, they’ve written for over 3 hours!

If they are extremely diligent (not advocating, mind you) they will amass over 157 writing hours over the working year! That amounts to around 4 weeks of full-time work. They can cover some serious mileage on the page in that time.

As a corollary: driving to work doesn’t allow any writing time.

My advice: Even if you own a Lamborghini, leave the car at home and get writing on the bus.

Writing on trains

Writing on trains!

Writing on trains!

Have you ever written in a train? Writing in trains as they speed down the line can lead you to the most unexpected destinations. Come prepared though: a solid notebook and steady hand are required. Or you might unfold your laptop.

In a train you can sit back (if a seat is free) and enjoy the ride. Watch your hand track the pen across the page, leaving a stream of words like smoke from an old locomotive. Maybe you have to stand and write and constantly adjust your balance to the train’s faltering rhythm.

“Excuse me,” someone says, nudging past you writing mid-sentence as they make haste for a vacant seat. No matter. Write anyway.

A train is your magic crucible of glass and steel and time. How long until you reach the end station? Not long enough if you don’t turn up the heat on your writing.

People talking loudly on mobiles, someone doused in sickly aftershave, another rolled in stale tobacco, the air thick with the rain carried in on umbrellas and jackets and slippery boots–all these impressions pressing in on that intimate space around you where those words, like colourful autumn leaves, hang ripe for you alone to pluck. All you have to do is keep that pen moving.

Pleasant, unpleasant, neither pleasant nor unpleasant–so you may perceive your surrounds from moment to moment in a train. Do you allow preconceptions of “how things should be” when writing to derail your creative journey? No way! A creative writer on the go embraces it all and keeps on writing.

Listen to the brakes squeal as the train pulls into your station. Feel the crowd milling past as you take note of all you’ve written, Not a bad writing session at all!

Have you had a similar experience writing on a train? If you haven’t, give it a try—set off on your own creative journey.

Incidentally, it’s rather impossible to take a selfie while writing. A kind woman took this photo for me. We had brief chat. She is an art therapist living out my way and helping children at Vienna’s large hospital (AKH). She rides her bike and then a train to get to work. Like me, I believe she enjoys every train journey.