Have you heard about Amtrak’s new idea to offer free “writers’ residencies” to writers? They haven’t opened up the program yet, but a couple of professional writers have gone on test runs. They tout the train as the best place to get some writing done.

I’ve never ridden Amtrak, so I couldn’t vouch one way or the other for trains. I’m not sure if I’ve found my sweet spot for writing. As a journalist with tight deadlines, I’m forced to write at my desk under whatever conditions, and hope for the best.

via vistadome.com
via vistadome.com

In the newsroom I have an L-shaped desk. So, when I go to edit a hard copy of one of my stories with a pen, I literally turn and face to the left, rather than forward like I normally do. Something about being oriented differently helps me see the story in a new way.

On a train, I suppose, your orientation is constantly shifting. Imagine heading from Portland to New York City and back. What could you accomplish or glean upon the way, just by being in a different place with changing scenery, hearing the soft rumbling of the tracks?

I wonder if writers who take these free train rides are allowed to get off at their destination and go explore. It sounds like the program is more for getting work done on long roundtrip rides, not for getting to a new place and exploring.

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