Making the best of what you have

filmmaker drawing in sketchbook on train

You often read that artists or writers tend to sit in cafés, drink a good cup of coffee and write down interesting ideas, when inspiraton hits them.

I don’t know about this. Sure, I sit in cafés now and then, but that is the exception.
But I do know about trains!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I do most of my film related work on my everyday train rides. As I work in another city (and hate car driving) I spend approximately 15 hours a week on trains, metros, waiting for trains and, guess what, waiting for metros.

filmmaker drawing in sketchbook on train

And you can always complain about what you do not have. But this won’t bring you very far. Of course, I would love to have the time to sit at a real table, without the shaking, without the changing light conditions, and not sitting in a crowded wagon without air conditioning, together with swetting people in summer. But that’s not the life I have. And maybe your conditions aren’t perfect, either.

So, fuck it, what I try to do is making the best of it! From the 3 hours I spend every day travelling there are 2×30 minutes left every day in which I am actually sitting in a shaky train. I’ve tried doing different tasks in the last two years in order to use this time productively and these are the things I learnt that can and cannot be done:

  • Drawing a comic – Not really. I am still trying, though! Maybe I need a flux capasitor.
  • Doing elaborate illustrations and production drawings –> Bad idea.
  • Taking (card) notes for screenplays –> Oh, yes!
  • Writing a screenplay –> Very difficult, but doable.
  • Checking out iPad apps –> If you have downloaded them beforehand, yes.
  • Writing blog posts –> Yes.
  • Formating blog posts –> No.
  • Formating scanned pictures and foto material –> No.
  • Creating 3 D asssets for my shortfilms on the tablet –> Are you kidding me?
  • Creating task lists and doing organisatory stuff –> Yes.
  • Getting some much needed sleep –> Try again.
  • Mailing with those who help doing my films –> Yes, but only where the tablet can find an internet connection.
  • Drawing storyboards –> Yes, because they don’t have to be perfect.
  • Drawing quick sketches and concept ideas –> Oh, yes, please! But only on the double decker train at 6:55 AM. I love double decker trains.
  • Looking into the eyes of the deer that stands curiously near the track between my second and third station on the way to work –> About once every month, but not in winter. 🙂
filmmaker drawing in sketchbook on train

You see, you can always complain about the things you do not have, or make something of what you have.

What are your challenges and how do you overcome them? Feel free to comment!

By they way: As I am writing this the old lady in front of me is doing a series of gymnastic exercises – on the train! I was able to take a picture at the end, when she was stretching and did not notice I was taking a picture.

old lady streching on train ride

14 responses to “Making the best of what you have

  1. This made me smile for some odd reason. I ‘ve never had this much of a long journey but I like how productive you still try to be with your work regardless of a difficult situation.


  2. I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with the “less than perfect” conditions I find myself in. I have a terrible case of the grass is greener over there. As soon as I get (fill in the blank) there’s a better way/thing/space/whatever. My challenge, to myself, of late has been to see just how much I can do right here, right now.

    Since I moved out to the suburbs I no longer get to ride the bus. I did always love riding the mass transit, if for no other reason than to people watch. Some of my favorite people stories are from riding the bus.


    • My friend, I don’t know, but maybe it would help, if you find the one thing you really want to have and then go for it.

      Life is full of shit. If you want something, nobody is going to give it to you. If you want to reach something, life won’t give it to you as a present. Instead, there will alwas be tons of obstacles. I get slapped a lot. I make a lot of mistakes. I’m often not sure, if I’m on the right track. But I am always focused one this one point I will reach one day. And when I tumble, I stand up and keep pushing forward. I tumble again, stand up again and keep pushing forward!

      Long ago, my father once tought me something I would like to give to you. He used different words, but the meaning was similar to this:


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