Monday, 3 June 2019

Spoonie Writer: Juggling Illness & Writing


SPOONIE WRITER: JUGGLING ILLNESS & WRITING

I've done pieces recently about the burnout I suffered at the tail end of 2018 and into 2019. (Piece found here) I wanted to touch on this again as a spoonie writer because I feel like it's something that applies to both me as an author and me as a spoonie and it might be something that can help others in the same situation. Just to clarify, I am doing better from the burnout. I took time for myself, allowed some self-care and gave myself the space to refill my creative well. On top of that I have been dealing with new symptoms which I've talked about on my Authortube channel and will briefly go into here.

For the past three months I have had what seems to be an allergy rash. We've treated it long term with steroids and a new anti-histamine, but there is the very real possibility that I have developed another condition to go with my others. Everything is up in the air, but it's looking to be auto-immune and could be anything from Lupus to arthritis to even just my body being the butt it is from time to time. I mention it because for a period they were concerned that it was simply brought about by the stress of working myself too hard, and that's a very real problem when you're a spoonie and trying to hold down a job of some sorts, especially a creative one that requires a lot of active planning and brain power.

When I talk about juggling illness and writing, I am usually talking about a long term illness. I do get colds and such from time to time, everybody does, but generally they don't hang around for long and you're, usually, able to take time off your working life until you recover. The same can not be said for a long term illness. I don't work a conventional job, and some days I don't work at all, but when I'm having to work through a flare or a hiccup in my health, I'm usually on deadline and having to do so because of the people and timing depending on me.

Like right now, I am in the midst of my second book release of the year. I also have a third planned, so have been juggling editing, proof-reading, promo, cover reveals, ARC readers and the like since the beginning of the year and it's not about to stop any time soon. Now of course, I could, as an indie author, choose to change the release dates, but I have put time and energy into making sure these releases go off without a hitch on the time frame I have promised. That means a lot of pressure on me to make sure I keep up with things.

So how do I cope with all of that while also keeping myself as healthy as I can be? Glad you asked, because I'm gonna tell you five things that I do to make sure I stay on deadline, but also don't make myself sick or sicker depending on the day of the week.

#1 - HAVE A PLAN
I've always been someone who's organised, and that's the same when it comes to my writing and releases and such. I know what needs to be done by when and having that gives me some breathing room and helps manage my anxiety. If I have a day when I'm not able to work, then I can look at my plan and know that I'm on track. For me it's always been sticky notes, I'd show you them but they have spoilers right now! But whatever works for you is the best option.

#2 - MAKE TIME TO REST

I have been doing a lot of resting these past few months. It means that I am over thirty books ahead on my Goodreads challenge because for me, nothing says rest like a good book to read. I have days when I'll be writing and that means setting aside time in the evening to wind down, read and catch my breath as it were. I also have days when I have nothing to do but small pieces of admin, like writing blog posts or vlog scripts. These are my days off, even though people tell me that since I'm still doing something related to work they don't count, but they do for me. I also have complete days off, these are days I plan to do nothing related to my author platform. They are sacred and important because they allow me to take a step back and recharge.

#3 - ALLOW FOR CATCH UP DAYS
If you're on deadline, during something like a a release or edits or something like that, then you need to be sure you have days that allow for some breathing room. These will be a lifesaver for you because they will give you a chance to reassess what you need to do, and know whether or not things need to be changed. I personally have dates that I already know will be the limit, but have plans to get things done before those dates so that if I have to push things back, I'm not going to miss the deadline. It helps me with my anxiety and it also allows for other issues outside of my control.

#4 - REMEMBER THAT SOME THINGS ARE OUT OF YOUR CONTROL
I'm talking about waiting on other people, like for my first release of the year, I ran into issues with my editor getting behind because of her own work schedule. I couldn't do anything about that and so getting the book ready for release and off to the proof-reader and from there to ARC readers were a massive headache for me, but it was helped by having friends around who could remind me that it could be done. And it was done, because of those catch up days and because of having set those deadlines, I was able to meet the goals set with minimal stress to me and my health.

And finally, #5 - GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE
I say this as someone who is usually hard on themselves. Especially when I'm on a deadline. I expect to give 110% to my work and to get it all done, but I'm not superwoman and neither are you. Allow yourself the time to heal if you need it, be careful with yourself because you are only human and you will make mistakes and that's okay. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to it. You're allowed to need time off and you're allowed to need space. It's all part of the process.

So those are my five tips when it comes to juggling your illness and your writing. I know that I've mostly focused on releases, but these can all be applied to other facets of the writing life. I have gone easy on myself these past few months and I plan to continue it going forward as well. You have to take care of yourself because that's how you keep writing and keep creating.


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