Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Three tips for writing when you want to hurl

I woke up feeling sick this morning. No, it’s not from overindulging during yesterday’s brewery tour (though it’s possible twelve pounds of tater tots was not the best dinner choice).

A stomach bug has been going around the office, and though I haven’t consulted the schedule, I have a hunch it’s my turn.

Writing is challenging under the best of circumstances, but attempting it when you feel like hurking into the potted plant on your desk is an especially unpleasant endeavor. I’m by no means a medical professional, but here are three things that help me muscle through when I’m not feeling my best.

Do the grunt work. If your brain is fried from fever but you can’t bear the thought of not opening your manuscript, focus on the inane tasks you’ve been procrastinating. Research the name of that disease your hero contracts in chapter six, or edit that scene you wrote fast and furious and now can’t stand reading because every third word is an adverb or “that.” Even if your creativity is taking a day off, you don’t have to.

Channel the ick. Will your book have a scene where a character isn’t feeling her best? Consider tackling it while you can relate. Getting into the right mindset to write a bad breakup scene or the death of a character is a whole lot easier when your head feels like you’ve been slamming it in the car door all night.

Give yourself a break. I know how it is when you’re on deadline or when you really don’t want to lose traction in your manuscript. But sometimes it’s OK to take a day off and snuggle under the blankets with a barf bucket and a good book. Reading is one of the best things a writer can do to hone his or her skills, so consider it self-improvement if that makes you feel better.

What are your tricks for muddling through when your muddler has fever and chills? Please share.

Speaking of sharing, I’d better get to the office. Gotta keep passing this bug around.

17 comments :

Danica Avet said...

Poor Tawna, I'm so sorry you're not feeling well!

I'll be honest here and say when I'm sick, the last thing I do is open my manuscript. However, that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it. Whether I'm reading or watching a movie, my brain is sluggishly working out plot points and scenes. Then, if I'm sick enough to need medication, I can take brainstorming to an entirely new level. Why couldn't the hero be a pink elephant? (No, I haven't done that, but hallucinations can sometimes make you at least feel creative.)

I hope you feel better soon!

Becky Taylor said...

I hope you feel better soon.

I almost never, never, get sick. But when I do, it's terrible. I can barely move when sick...and so I don't try.

I'm all about taking a break when ill.

Sarah W said...

I sleep.

There is no excuse for not taking advantage of a perfect excuse to sleep.

Candyland said...

Yuck! Fell better:( I've been fighting getting the flu all week.

Ryshia Kennie said...

Flu - ugh I feel for you - I just had that on the weekend. For me it meant, sleep, too much couch time equaling too much TV, thinking about plot lines but not writing. After being sick, I find I'm so relieved to feel good again that I'm twice as motivated when I finally sit down to write.

Lisa Marie Miles said...

Honestly, when I'm sick the last thing I want to do is write. But I do think about my story. I might scribble some little notes down, but I don't actually write-write.
Feel better!

Simon C. Larter said...

You coulda posted this yesterday, y'know. But then I wouldn't have read it till today anyway, cuz I was busy trying to sleep off the nausea and taking breaks from that to kark every now and then.

But at least I managed to pull myself together enough to get to my writers' group meeting last night. (In the spirit of sharing, and all. I might've licked the smoked gouda when everyone else was in another room. Maybe.)

So I guess I was productive despite the pestilence after all. Huh.

Hope you feel better soon!

Ricky Bush said...

I'm afraid that I practice the third tip way too often...sick or not.

Linda G. said...

Ugh. That sucks. Got an peppermint tea? Sometimes that helps with tummy troubles.

Feel better soon!

Laina said...

I can write when I'm sick, but it's so bad that I just end up having to spend as much, if not more, time fixing it later. :P Plus I have a tendancy towards migraines and fevers when I'm sick, so being on the computer = death. I read a LOT when I'm sick, watch a lot of movies, and, well, sleep.

I can kinda write when I get headaches from my sinuses because I take Sudafed for those (gooood stuff) but sometimes it ends of being really weird... I make jokes no one gets and skip words really often.

Plamena said...

I've been creeping around here for some time so I thought I'd finally say something : P

I hope you feel better! Being sick sucks. Although your strategies of how to stay productive with your writing sound good. And I'm not sure about being sick, but when I'm really tired I sometimes write better (okay, maybe not better, but at least more) because I'm too tired to start thinking about other stuff and lose my concentration.

kd easley said...

Sorry you're feeling bad. Hope it doesn't last long.
I have to agree with Sarah W. There's just no reason to pass up a perfectly good excuse to sleep. :)

Feel better soon.

Trisha Leigh said...

Hope you feel better soon. It is hard to get motivated on those days, and suggestion #1 is a good one.

If you don't feel like doing anything, the smallest something is an accomplishment. I also find once I get the ball rolling, juices flowing, etc that I'll keep going and not even notice.

Harley May said...

When a stomach bug hits, I check out.

You should do the same and get some much-needed recovery time.

(I like Simon's word 'Kark')

Hope you feel better soon, Tawna.

Tawna Fenske said...

Thanks so much for the well wishes and encouraging words, guys! I'm feeling much better this morning.

Tawna

Abby Minard said...

Glad you are feeling better- the stomach bug is going around here too. I think the whole country has the stomach flu right now.

Julia King said...

Taking a break is pretty much crucial. If you're burned out, take the break even if it's just a day.
I just finished a break where I studied how to write fiction. I bought two books that looked good, read them, and now I feel infused with direction, and I am back in the game. That could be a useful exercise for you to do when you are about to chuck the computer across the room.