Writing While Sick

by Linda Rodriguez
I’m a day late getting this blog posted. My apologies, but I’d been dealing with illness, which suddenly took a drastic turn for the worse. I spent yesterday and last night absolutely miserable with fever and chills and vomiting, and I just lost track of my blogging days. But better late than never.
Anyone who knows many professional writers (at least writers
of novels) knows that writers are self-employed and don’t get holidays or
vacation leave. That’s why, when everyone else is posting photos of their
holiday fun at the pool and the park on Memorial Day or Labor Day, writers are
posting their first-draft word counts or hours of revision/copy edits/page
proofs .

But what about sick leave? Nope, none of that, either. When
a writer is ill, s/he has to decide between going to bed like a normal person
when sick or trying to soldier on to finish the current book. Still, it’s not
the same as working on a holiday or during the time everyone else is on
vacation. Whether we can actually work depends on the type of work we try to do
and the type of illness we’re suffering.

If it’s just a cold, we can probably manage most of our
writing tasks, though the creative flow for first-draft work can be very hard
to achieve. If it’s been bad flu or some other more serious illness and we’re
in that stage of the worst is over but we’re weak and spacy, it’s even a good
fit for first-draft writing. We’re located much more in the right brain than we
usually are. However, it’s not at all easy to gain the sharp focus required for
revision, editing, dealing with copy edits, or proofreading. 

If our illness is something more debilitating, we may only
be able to write a short blog post—or perhaps not even that. In those cases, we
have no choice but to give up the work until our strength returns at least
somewhat. Those times, though we can hardly afford them if our writing is
paying the bills, can often hold a hidden benefit as we drift in fever or
weakness and dream often bizarre new characters and stories.

It’s all grist for our little cottage industry of spinning
the straw of daily existence into the gold of story. How does illness affect
your writing? How does it affect your reading? I know when I’m super ill, I
want to read Agatha Christie and other comfort novels that I’ve read many times
before. What’s your favorite illness reading?
3 replies
  1. Margaret S. Hamilton
    Margaret S. Hamilton says:

    I wallow in a PD James book or re-read an entire series in order (Maisie Dobbs, Julia Spenser-Fleming).

    I agree with creativity while drowsy. I try to achieve it every morning.

    Feel better!

  2. Linda Rodriguez
    Linda Rodriguez says:

    Thanks, Margaret. Creativity while drowsy is easier than creativity while washed-out, but good ideas can pop up then.

Comments are closed.