Writing While Driving by Karen M. Cox

Writing Secret for Today: Write While You Drive

At first glance, this sounds like a very bad idea, doesn’t it? Right up there with texting, putting on mascara, or looking for something in your purse while careening down the highway.


But don’t worry; I’m not talking about the physical act of writing, but rather the mental process of it.

I’ve read that JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was waiting for a delayed train connection between Manchester and London’s King’s Cross when the idea for Harry’s story came to her. Not only did she have that seminal idea when she was stuck for about four hours, but she was also without a pen to write it down.

I used to find that story rather anxiety-provoking, because in that situation I’d probably be terrified to lose my idea somewhere in the recesses of my mind—afraid that it would sink into a deep, dark hole and never see the light of day. Ms. Rowling stated, however, that that delay in accessing her pen might have been a good thing, as she spent those hours coming up with new ideas and plot twists and letting her imagination run wild. She’s not sure what she forgot from that four-hour mental journey into the wizard’s world, but when she did get her hands on pen and paper, she spent the next several days writing.

I think about that anecdote from Ms. Rowling from time to time.

Once or twice a week, I make a 45 minute trek into the ‘big town’ in my area of Kentucky—to work, run errands, go to appointments, etc. Inevitably, this is when the next plot turn or scene in my current project will occur to me. My first response is an angsty pang in my gut, accompanied by inner monologue snippets like, ‘Where’s my pen? Is there a receipt, a paper bag, anything I can scribble this idea on while I sit at the red light?’

Sometimes, I do give in and write something down—even if it’s just a few words, a song title that suggests a mood, or a line of dialogue that triggers a whole conversation. (I promise I stop the car before I write. The driving public is safe from me!) But over time, I’ve discovered that if I chill out and let those ideas run their course, when I do get back to the computer, the essence of them isn’t gone. It resurfaces when I’m writing the scene for real, and my inner monologue breathes out, ‘Ohhh…that’s how that fits.’ Something wonderful happens while I’m driving with the radio on and the scenery blowing by. My anxiety is banked enough to free up my imagination so it can bend and stretch, and push farther into new places, new possibilities.


I figure if developing her thoughts first worked for JK Rowling—just maybe it will help me, too.


Karen M Cox is the author of three published novels. Her debut novel 1932 and her sophomore effort, Find Wonder in All Things, both won Independent Publisher Books Awards in the Romance Category. Find Wonder was also a finalist in this year’s Next Generation Indie Book Awards.


Her upcoming novel, At the Edge of the Sea, can be described as ‘a realistic love story, told by an idealist.’

In the summer of 1959, Billy Ray Davenport arrives in Orchard Hill. He’s there to work with the local physician before beginning medical school, but when he runs headlong into Lizzy Quinlan, the small-town girl with the bad reputation, he gets more than he bargained for. Billy Ray has an education in store for him all right, but perhaps not the kind of learning the people in Orchard Hill or his stern father, a widowed itinerant minister, expect. Lizzy Quinlan is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever.

At the Edge of the Sea, published by Meryton Press, will be released in October, 2013, and will be available on Amazon in print and Kindle format.


Readers can connect with Karen via her website and blog:


Her facebook Author Page:


At the Edge of the Sea’s facebook page:


or Twitter:



6 thoughts on “Writing While Driving by Karen M. Cox”

  1. Jen, thanks for a great post. It reminded me of the interior design school I founded. I thought it up all in my head, name, what to teach, who I will reach. Then when I had time to write, I got it all down and did it. The school was the highlight of my career. Thanks for jarring some wonderful memories.

  2. I have similar experiences all the time, Karen. My best ideas come along when I’m inevitably unable to get to pen and paper…shower, highway, grocery story check-out line. That’s why my new phone is a Galaxy Note II that has a stylus and notepad built in. Still not helpful while driving. I wish i was one of those people who could dictate my ideas, but alas, they only seem to come out properly from brain to pen and not brain to mouth. One of these days i’ll try retraining brain, LOL. Thanks for sharing!

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