Keep Calm and Write On

Not everyone in the writing community has support or resources. You know this. Not a revelation. The #writestuff twitter chat this week stumbled upon another commonality. Many (not all, but more than I expected) of us are chronically ill, whether diagnosed or stuck in the something-is-wrong-but-what stage.

How do you find time or motivation to write when your own body feels like it’s made of molasses or pins or as if you aren’t in it, but hovering around its edges looking for a safe place to rest?

The short answer is, you often don’t. A follow-up is to be kind to yourself while you wait and listen.

A lot of writing advice, rightly so, is that a writer writes. This is true, but that doesn’t mean you are machine or a failure if you lack a groove. Not every song calls you to the dance floor.

But, I do believe showing up makes the writing flow.

This is where mindfulness and honesty & kindness to yourself comes in handy. Do you feel well enough to lie in bed and journal some ideas? Do you feel well enough to sit up in a crowded cafe and pound out a thousand words? Those are two very different writing grooves, and they are both completely valid.

Maybe today you need a nap and crap tv. Maybe tomorrow you have to go to the 8-5, and that’s all your body has room for right now, and 8-5 is more important because a writer’s gotta eat (and pay for prescriptions).

No one knows but you. There is no wrong answer. The line between an excuse and a need is fairly clear if you are paying attention. (The post about why we chronically ill don’t like to listen to our bodies is for another day.)

If you were your own employer, what would you say to a sick employee? You’d be kind, considerate, and patient, yes? You’d put down a firm boundary, too.

“Get your rest. Take care of yourself. Come in when you feel better. Go home when you feel unwell. I trust that you truly want to write, and you will when you are able. Keep showing up, though. Let me know you’re invested. I care about you. You are valuable to this organization, and we want you to help you succeed.”

Keep calm and write on, friends.

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