Writing isn’t easy when you’re sick or in pain all the time. As someone who suffers from chronic migraines and fibromyalgia, I’ve had to find ways to remain productive even when I’m feeling sick for weeks at a time.
Some things that have worked for me:
1) Working While Resting
When I have a headache that feels like someone’s stabbing my eyes, or I’m leaning over a trash can about to vomit, I’m obviously not able to get anything done. But if I’m just feeling drowsy from medicine, or feeling too achy to move but not so sick that I’m about to pass out, I try to use my time wisely.
I keep a pencil and Post-Its by my bed, so while I’m resting, I can take notes on future story ideas or jot down ways to improve my current manuscript. If I can tolerate a bright screen, I’ll sometimes email myself story notes on my phone. If I’m too sick to write or email, sometimes I’ll just let my mind wander and see what kind of story ideas I come up with. (And with the migraine meds I take, sometimes I come up with really weird stuff!)
Resting and recovering is the absolute priority, but there’s no harm in doing a lot of thinking during that time.
2) Utilizing Waiting Time
While people with chronic illness frequently lose time in their day from feeling sick, they also lose time because of doctor appointments. I, personally, spend a ton of time in waiting rooms. But I bring a notebook with me and use this time to get writing done.
Now, I’m not the type to write by hand, so this means I prepare my notebook ahead of time with some information from my current WIP’s Word document. Usually just a few notes that tell me what just happened in that scene.
Other ways I’ve used waiting room time wisely include reading books on the craft of writing, reading other books in my genre, and bringing a printed out manuscript and going over it with a red pen. (I only did this once, and it was a time when I had to wait over an hour in a waiting room. It was fabulous.)
Being chronically ill can be a pain—literally—but I don’t let it take away too much of my writing time.
Thanks, Misha, for letting me share my experiences!
Shelley Sly lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and their chocolate lab mix. Her debut middle grade novel, Wishing for Washington, is available on Amazon.com and BN.com. You can find her at www.shelleysly.com.