“No one gets it, until they get it.”
There’s a lot of truth in that statement.
With more people sick than ever before, it can affect each and every one of us.
If you recall, in my last post, I talked about consistency and how important it is in order to make progress. That it’s not to be confused with perfection. That we’re all going to experience failures and setbacks at one time or another.
But what about those of us that are sick?
None of us are immune to the common cold or occasional flu. Yet, there are those of us that suffer from chronic illness such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Migraines, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Fatigue and more. It is illnesses such as these that can put a real damper on our life as we weather the course of consistency.
This, of course, can have an affect on our writing. Just how can we remain positive and productive without becoming discouraged?
One thing we can do is to try to stay focused.
For those of you that have a good measure of health, even though you may suffer from an occasional illness, you may be capable of writing full steam ahead without interruption. And that’s totally awesome you are able to do that.
Well, that’s a whole other story.
I, like mentioned above, suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I’ve had it for years. And when it strikes, which for the last several years has been often, it’s a struggle just to stay vertical, let alone consistent. (See Unbroken and Undefeated)
So what can we do to keep writing even when we’re sick?
Today I’d like to share highlights from a post written by author Lucy Flint entitled,“Six Ways to Keep Working When You’re Sick” I think you’ll find it inspiring.
Here’s a few ideas to keep our focus and remain productive!
#1: Put your daydreams to work.
“This is like a perfect recipe for daydreaming. I think of intentional daydreaming like making a smoothie: put a few good ingredients together in a blender, and flip it on.
So when you’re sick and you’re crawling back to bed, mentally grab about three things from your work-in-progress. Maybe: a setting you want to explore, or a relationship between characters, a scene or a plot point that you’re stuck on, a beginning or ending that you want to rework.”
I like to stick a notepad beside my bed and let my mind roam. I might take a nap and when I wake up, let my mind meander around my story and characters. Although, this can happen at any point of the day regardless of illness.
“Honestly, you might surprise yourself with what you dream up. Keep feeding your subconscious during the day, and jot down notes as ideas float by. You can deepen so many parts of your work this way… and it’s practically effortless!”
#2: Mind Map your way to better ideas.
“Being sick can be a great time to explore your ideas in a more concentrated way. I’ve heard again and again that if you want to do better brainstorming work, you need to put yourself physically in a different space. And if you’re leaving your desk for your bed, swapping a screen for paper and pen–well, you’re halfway there!”
Grab those ideas, mull them around and you may come up with something exciting and new!
Lucy suggests that if you’re feeling up to it, grab a big pad of paper, and create a mind map of a project or two. “Thanks to the dreaminess of being sick, you have a chance to have a looser process, to let more air into your work, and to just think differently as you brainstorm.”
#3: Create a mini writing retreat.
“What’s something you want to learn about in your writing, but you don’t ever seem to have a chance? Grab that writing book you’ve been meaning to get to, or explore the writing website you found but haven’t yet read. Fill your feverish little noggin with writing articles and podcasts.”
Right now I’m reading one of Marcy Kennedy’s wonderful series of craft books for busy writers. I find that when I’m unable to write, it’s a great time to immerse myself in the craft of writing. What better way to use the time than to sharpen my skills?
#4: Fall into an excellent novel.
“This is a great time to dive into a book. Declare a reading holiday!”
“Pick up a novel that’s like the one you’re trying to write, and as you soak in the words, push yourself to think like a writer. Pay attention to where the plot tightens up, to how the character relationships unfold, to whether you want to keep reading (in spite of being sick!), or where the tension slacks off and you’d rather nap.”
This is something that I persoanlly love to do. So again, keep that writing pad close, so that you can take note of the author’s craft strengths and techniques.
#5: Have a movie festival.
“Find a few movies about authors, or writing, or really–anything to do with books.
You could also dive into a handful of that kind of movie that reviewers call “visual feasts.” Rewatch some quirky films that delight or inspire you. Have yourself an inspiration picnic…Nourish the places that might have gone a little dry, while you were being so productive before. “
Sometimes when we’re really sick, it is virtually impossible to concentrate on the reading. Thus watching a movie becomes the perfect antidote to keep our focus on writing!
#6 Let yourself off the hook.
“Look. If you’re really really sick, just put the work to one side. Let yourself sleep like crazy. Heal. Because ultimately–and you know this if you’ve been around here a while–I’m all about taking good care of yourself as a person first, and as a writer second. And honestly, illness is a good time for me to re-orient on this principle.”
Yes, it can be frustrating at times. You’re plugging along, everything is going well, and then Kaplunk! Life happens and we’re faced with illness again.
So give yourself a break. Go back to bed, curl up with a hot cup of tea and rest!
And guess what? Our work will be there when we feel better.
One of the things I’ve learned is no one is going to get upset because we’re sick. There is no shame in not writing. If you’re not feeling well, for whatever reason, this is the perfect time to reach out to a friend for help and encouragement.
“No one gets it, until they get it.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
And we wouldn’t wish our illness upon anyone for anything in this world.
But we’re writers. And writers write.
We’ll figure out a way to make it work. And we’ll figure out a way not to quit.
So what do you think? Do you suffer from one of the illnesses above? How does it affect your writing? Are you able to write during a bout with a cold or flu? And now that summer’s approached, what ways help you to stay focused and productive?