Writing All Night in Dublin Airport

Charles Daly
Dec 19, 2016 · 3 min read

Note: the following was written, edited, and published in the middle of an all-nighter. All typos and style fails are strictly rhetorical.

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I’m writing this in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport at four in the morning. I’ve decided to turn an overnight layover into an espresso-fueled writing spree. Here’s what I got up to during my impromptu residence.

I Observed and Took Notes

What was cool about spending a waking night in an airport is that all the people I was people-watching were doing the same thing, but they were all doing it differently.

Some people clutched their luggage while they slept, some knew my leg-hooked-through-the-pack-strap trik. One young lady seemed to be having a staring contest with her upright rolling luggage, totally paranoid. One guy slept with his feet up on a luggage cart.

Other people didn’t seem worried enough about their bags.

No two people slept the same way: they slumped over the stunted desks at mobile phone charging stations, they sprawled on the floor, they made pillows of packs and pals. Only a few of the benches in the terminal have no armrests and those were all occupied with the folks who seemed to be getting the closest thing to proper bed sleep.

The non-sleepers included a dozen Russian guys who started strong, drinking and rough-housing, and were all out cold by midnight.

One guy, in a tracksuit, stood in front of a TV monitor playing the news for at least twenty minutes.

And, of course, I watched me watching the whole thing. There’s nothing like staying up all night for a warped look at your own perspective, like the shapes you see when you poke your closed eyelid hard enough (more on that later.)

In the men’s room there’s a sign saying “enjoy fresh breath now” my guess is that someone who was bored and stuck here before me peeled it from above the Tic-Tac vending machine.

I Took Care of Some Busy Work

As you may have noticed, midnight in Terminal Two doesn’t exactly bring out one’s “A” material. Low on creativity and critical faculties but high on inertia, I took care of some menial stuff that had to get done. I formatted two interview, caught up on emails, and line edited.

Tonight wasn’t about productivity, it was practice doing the work when I’d rather be in bed.

I used Grogginess to Get a New Editing Perspective

Editing when you’re on the brink of nodding off is a good way to get inside the reader’s head. After all, that’s the state in which many people do their reading.

By three AM, my tolerance for my own wordiness and weak structure had dwindled to almost zero.

I Watched a Movie and Called it Homework

One I had already seen a half-dozen times… I took notes on beats, scene structure, and the Hero’s Journey.

This is an exercise I’m going to hang onto for sick days and other situations where reading would put me to sleep.

I Made a Friend and Learned about Venezuela

The guy sitting next to me for much of the night was on his way home to Costa Rica. Being stuck in the airport all night was the downside to a last-minute deal on a trip that would be a Christmas surprise to his parents.

We got right into politics. That’s the last thing anyone ever wants to talk about with someone they’re stuck sitting next to for a long stretch, but in this case it was awesome. I got a detailed briefing on the crisis in Venezuela and made a contact if I find myself traveling in Latin America.

I Documented my Night at the Airport (See What I Did There)

What I got out of tonight, you’re reading it. I didn’t create, I documented (per Gary Veynerchuck’s advice.) I jotted down some notes on what it’s like to stay up all night writing in an airport and what I learned about writing from that experience. I got over my need to get right and just got it written. I gave myself permission not to do a think piece.

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