Monday 23 September 2019

Spoonie Writer: Writing In Pain


It's been a while since I've talked about this, and as it's never really been about the pain so much as about the thing the pain causes, such as hospital visits and down time (pieces found here and here.) But given that in the last month I spent a week in the hospital and have, since then, been diagnosed with a new fun symptom of my chronic pain conditions, I wanted to touch on it specifically, because I feel like too much time is spent telling people how to work around being sick, and not what happens when you just... can't.

I'm guilty of that, I have spent a lot of my time on the blog, in my career, on my Authortube channel, talking about how to manage your time and be as productive as you need to be. And that's both true and it's not, because sometimes it's not the pain that's stopping me from writing, it's just my want to be lazy or to avoid a problem I'm finding in my work. And in those cases, yes it's a good thing to push yourself, but when you're chronically ill, when you have a chronic pain condition, sometimes you can't push yourself without it coming back to bite you in the backside.

So what do you do when you can't write? When the pain is super bad and all the painkillers in the world won't help? You stop. You rest. You take as long as you need, and you take your time. Because no matter how much the abled world likes to tell us, we're valid whether we're being productive or not. It's a hard lesson to learn, but it's one that I feel the need to spread.

Here's some things that might help with that, but be aware that they're just my tools and they might not fit in your toolbox, but that doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you if they don't! Everyone is different and it's taken me a long time to be okay with using these tools, and managing to be okay with taking the time to refresh, to relax, to be in pain and still function through it all. I hope they help you too.

Sometimes it can feel like work to read, but other times it's good to just lose yourself in a book. Even if it's something you can only do in small doses, it can be enough to take your mind of the pain and allow you to get some restorative rest.

I will usually only turn to this if there's nothing else that works. Simply because I have a hearing issue and sometimes when I feel worse, I'm not able to focus all that well on the sounds and what's happening on screen, but it can be a great way to spend your downtime.

Depending on how you do with voice, sometimes just texting can be enough. Personally I prefer using Skype or voice to talk because it allows me to close my eyes and just focus on the words. My editor is great at this, when I was in hospital she kept me company, kept me sane through Skype calls and good headphones. It helped in the darkest times and it allowed me to stay somewhat connected to work without having to actually do any.

I did this while I was in the hospital, during some down time when I actually felt well enough to be doing something. I wasn't up to actually writing, but I did have my phone and good headphones and was able to use the memo app to record a few bits and pieces of dialogue and action scenes as a way to make sure I didn't forget it before I got back to my computer.


Sleep can be a great healer, it can be something that allows you to both get better from a current issue, and also give you the tools to keep fighting the pain. I did a whole ton of this in hospital. For the first few days, I was actually falling asleep mid-conversation and it was annoying, but so very much needed. It allowed my body to rest, but it also gave me a chance to spend some time away from the pain. I don't know about you, but I don't feel pain in my dreams.

So while this piece is titled about writing while in pain, I wanted to give it a better sense of the idea that we don't have to always be productive to be valid as either writers or people. We are allowed to take the time to recover. Yes, there are no days when I'm not in some level of pain, and on those I'm able to write. But there are way too many when the pain is just too much and I feel the need to keep pushing myself to meet my goals. Which isn't healthy either for my body, or in general.

So remember that you can take rests, that breaks are important, and keep fighting, you will get there. The time it takes doesn't matter, it's just the destination that's important.

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1 comment:

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