The cold & flu season has hit me pretty hard this year, and we’re not even into winter yet. My family has gone through more boxes of tissues in the past six weeks than the average elementary school classroom does in a year. As soon as we got over one thing, something else hit.
I’ve been in such a brain fog lately that I’d completely forgotten I had a post for WU this month until I flipped my calendar to November and saw the reminder. Thank the Sucrets I’d marked it down. But by then I was already five weeks into this phlegm-covered mess, and all my ideas for a post kept ending in violent sneezes. Whilst calming my sore throat with (yet another gallon of) honey chamomile tea, I concluded that I only had two choices– to either cancel my post/ reschedule it, or write through my obstacles.
After a few rounds of Schweppes ginger ale and some Nyquil-tinis, I realized I have been writing all this time (started a new novel last month), despite my raging sickness. But how?
Here are the three main things I’ve been doing… that I can remember:
Toss out your weekly/monthly word count goals and make a new, realistic goal for yourself at the start of each writing day, depending on how you feel. One day I wrote ten new pages. The next day I wrote less than fifty words. You can only take it day by day, and that has to be good enough until your health returns to normal. Some days your goal might just be “one new sentence.” And that’s okay.
Allow others to help lighten your load. When I’m sick my house becomes an every-man-for-himself war zone. We had it especially hard this past week because all three of us were fighting something, so for a few days this place was looking post-apocalyptic. But usually that isn’t the case, and at least one of us is well enough to pick up the slack that the other is leaving behind. It’s okay to take advantage of this for, say, a ten-minute writing session. That might be the only ten minutes you have that you’re coherent enough to string words into a sentence.
Step away from the computer and curl up on the couch with a pen and paper. Sitting at a desk, staring at a backlit screen for extended periods is not recommended even when you’re in good health. When you’re sick, you might get better writing results if you go the old-fashioned route for a few days. You can transfer anything salvageable to your word documents later. Writing is writing is writing, no matter what format. And there is something about the movement of a pen across paper that actually heightens your brain function.
Above all else, rest whenever you need it and don’t push yourself too hard, mentally or physically.
All of that being said, I sincerely hope you never have to put any of those points to use any time soon. May you all have a happy and healthy writing life for the remainder of 2011 (and beyond).
photo courtesy of flickr’s sidknee23