Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Writing With a Chronic Illness
Periodically, I like to turn Suspense Novelist over to another author who is seeking more exposure for themselves and their writing.
I'm pleased to welcome KJ Roberts as my guest blogger today. If you'd like to get to know her a little better, or read an excerpt from her book, please visit her blog.
I’m not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV. So anything I say here is just from my experiences.
I’m an author. An author who has fibromyalgia. While the term is spreading, some people still ask what that is. Truly, I don’t know. No one knows what that is. But people who have it know their bodies, and their bodies are telling them something isn’t right. They are in constant pain, tired all the time and have no energy. Now, there are plenty of other symptoms that go along with this, but neither you, nor I have the time to be bored with it. And all Fibromites are different in terms of what symptoms they have. Just know it is a chronic illness with no known cause or cure.
So what does this mean? For me and my attitude, it means I have a chronic illness that makes me feel sick. I suffer from this daily. I remember the last day that I felt really good. I mean really good. It was last year in the summer. I got up and felt like doing something. I grabbed my husband and said lets go golfing. Hubby jumped at this as he’s an avid golfer. Plus, I’d gotten him a new set of clubs for his birthday last year. I played five holes and was done. I was tired and in pain. I don’t regret playing that day as it was great to spend time with him.
How does this relate to writing? I have to takes things slow. This can really frustrate me if I’m on a roll. The juices may be flowing and the scene hopping in my head, but if I overdo it, I will pay for it. I might not be able to write for days or weeks if I push too hard.
Schedules are impossible. I can’t stick to one, because life has a way of changing things. If I have something planned like washing the laundry, one kid will be sick and have to go to the doctor. Super mom would get the kid to the doctor and wash the clothes. Me…I have to choose. My life has come down to choosing how I use my energy on small things. Shower and let my hair go wet, or no shower and style my hair so it looks nice. (Terrible, but no lie.)
Because I can’t push myself, I don’t usually get in a deadline situation. I don’t submit a quarry and three chapters knowing the story isn’t finished or pose an idea. I make sure everything I submit is complete. I know a lot of authors do, but I have to manage my writing and my illness. I write the story in my head and then look for a home.
I see many authors crank out books and have a huge backlist. I have the ideas for the books, but not the energy. So I don’t compare myself to other writers. I set reasonable goals and work towards them. With my last WIP, I set a goal of three hundred words a day. I worked on that for about a week. I saw that I had ranged from four to six hundred words. After two weeks, I raised my goal to six hundred. I knew it wasn’t pushing too hard after keeping to it for two weeks.
The best thing I could recommend to other authors with chronic illnesses is to measure your writing against yourself, be truthful with how you feel and forget how much others produce. If you don’t feel well, don’t push it. It’s better to take it slow and produce a little work at a steady pace than to produce a lot on a good day and not produce for days later. One good day at two thousand words don’t compare to seven days of six hundred words. Especially when you add it up for a year.
Thanks KJ, for letting us see what a little determination and bichoking can do. You're an inspiration!
CR: Heartsick by Chelsea Cain.
It's all better with friends.