Monday 26 June 2023

Spoonie Writer: Working Out A Schedule


Last week I talked about sleepless nights and how my schedule works for me (found here) and this week I thought I'd switch from talking about being an indie author to talking about being a spoonie and having to juggle all the things while also juggling a chronic illness or two. For those who don't know, I've been chronically ill the majority of my life, and it all kinda came to a head when I was 19, and at 41, I'm still fighting the same fights as I was back then. Of course if I hadn't gotten sick when I did, I don't know if I would have become an author, and done all of that because I probably would not have had the downtime to even think about doing so seriously. So there was, for me, a turn left moment in my life when I got sick and found that writing was something I was exceptionally passionate about and could see myself doing for the rest of my life.

So with that bit of backstory and intro over, let's dive into the main point of this piece, and that's how do you find some kind of schedule, when you're not sure how you're going to feel from day to day. It's especially hard when you have fluctuating symptoms and don't know for sure that you're even going to be able to manage to get out of bed, let alone write, work, or whatever else you want to do. But sometimes it feels like the only way you're going to get things done is to have some idea of what steps you need to take and when you're going to do them.

Going back to when I first got sick enough that I couldn't work a conventional job and was retired on medical grounds at the age of 19. I didn't have the first clue what I was going to be doing with the rest of my life, and I was also really struggling to balance the new symptoms, pain, fatigue, brain fog and the like, and do anything other than lie in bed and watch videos or try and read book after book after book. It took me a really really long time to get to the stage where I am now, even without the fact that now I am a lot older, and in some ways I'm more stable, and in others I'm sicker.

I remember that back then I would push myself to write every day because that's what I thought 'real' writers did, and it backfired. I would have days when I couldn't get out of bed because of all that pushing. It wasn't until I'd grown up a little and accepted the loss of what I saw as my future back then, that I really started to see that I could do this writing thing, but, and this is important, I had to be extremely aware of my limits. From there, I would write in bursts and then spend days, weeks, even months sometimes away from writing because I would need to refill my creative well, and I just couldn't manage to write.

Of course, if you've been around the blog, or my Authortube channel, or even my socials, you'll know that now I write consistently and have a schedule that I, mostly, keep to. It all started very small, very slowly, and very carefully. I know that people have this impression that I'm always working, but I'm not. As I wrote about last week I only have a chunk of about three hours, at most, a day when I'll be able to write, or work, or do whatever admin stuff is needed of me. I can, occasionally, push on that and manage a little more for things like the professional editing cycle, but mostly, it's those three hours and little else is possible.

It took a lot of trial and error, and there are even some months or weeks when I still have to throw in the towel, and take a break because my body says stop. I learned that listening to what I needed, was the most important part of any schedule I could set up for myself. The same is true for any spoonie, and also healthy people as well, because you need to be sure that what you're trying to get done, isn't going to send you into a horrible flare. No one wants that!

So when it comes to trying to work out a schedule, my advice, as always, is to start small. It doesn't matter if that means, like I did a page a day, or if that means a paragraph a day, though not every day of course. You will make progress, you will find your schedule and routine, and while it will probably never stay static, it is something you can work with. You have to remember to go at your own pace, if it takes you months, or even years to get to the point where you feel like you know what you're capable of that's okay. As a wise friend once said to me, it takes as long as it takes, and that's okay.

Good luck!

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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