Sunday 14 September 2014

Spoonie Writer: Writing When You Can

Spoonie Writer: Writing When You Can

One thing I learnt early on when I was diagnosed was that sometimes things don't go to plan. You may think that because you've gotten a good nights sleep, you'll be able to do that big thing you planned, or even that little thing you planned. Sometimes though, when chronically ill, our bodies have other ideas. Part of being a spoonie is knowing how to understand what your body needs and what it's saying, so that if it says rest, you can do so as soon as possible and not miss out on days of work because you overdid it.

Another thing I have learned since I got medically retired and took up writing as a career was that no matter how much you may want to do something and have a relatively "normal" day, it's not going to happen that way all the time. Some days you'll be able to do more, other days you won't get anything done. The trick is to know exactly how YOU are feeling, what your body is telling you and what you need to do to make sure you don't get hit with major payback.

As someone who has to count "spoons" and decide whether or not it's the right time to write, I can tell you that there is never a "right" time, it's all about writing when you can and listening to your body when you can't. I know I have talked before about things you can do when you can't write (found here) but there are times when you're just well enough to get a page written. While you may find it easier to write when you're able to fully commit and sit for as long as it takes, as a spoonie writer you will have to learn to adjust. For some of us, sitting for long periods of time is impossible, whereas for others, it's the only thing they can do without causing more issues.

I may be uttering these words all the time in pieces like this, but it really is a fine balancing act between doing what you can when you can and pushing yourself past your limits and paying for it later. Personally, I've done both. I have done writing in bits and pieces and found I got more done than if I'd waited for a longer period to write, and I've pushed myself past breaking point and then found myself unable to manage anything constructive for the rest of the week. If you're working to a deadline that's one thing, but for me, my deadlines are arbitrary and rarely set in stone. Of course, I have a publication deadline, but the book has usually been written by then and it's just the editing that needs doing.

That's another thing though, being a writer is not just about sitting down at the keyboard and pouring out chapter after chapter. There are other responsibilities that we need to meet and for some of us, doing those in manageable chunks helps and makes them seem less daunting than attempting to do it all at once. My fabulous editor sends me corrections in chunks and I work through them at my own pace. We start the editing process a couple of weeks after the last book was published so that we have the majority of a year to work through it. You will learn these kinds of work-arounds as you become more familiar with how your conditions affect you and what works for you. Don't give up hope and try not to push beyond what you are capable of at that moment in time. After all, it's you who has to deal with the payback and you who suffers for it.

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