Writing Advice for Chronically Sick People

Everyone likes writing advice. I would bet every single published writer with a presence online has been asked about how to write or how to be a writer more times than they can count, or remember, or forget.

What’s been impossible for me to find advice for is writing and writing goals for people who cannot write every day or cannot write a lot every day because of their health. Finally, I realized, after months of reading online and trying to make myself fit into someone else’s routine, that the only reasonable advice is:

Find what works for you.

If you really want to write, it’ll happen. It might not happen every day or every week. Your health is more important than the next 1000 words. No buts. It just is.

I’ve been fighting myself trying to find a way to write. I joined Camp Nano again for April thinking it would be the motivation I needed to write. Well, most days I had no idea what to write, no focus to think through writing, or no energy after I finished the other things that needed done that day. Maybe this is what made me realize that someone else’s routines and goals won’t help me…. or at least I better have planned out exactly what I’m doing to be able to succeed for something like Nanowrimo or Camp Nano(wrimo).

Things I’ve learned:

1. It’s okay to not write every day.

2. Sometimes you can just think about writing.

3. Reading is good too.

4. Finding ways to brainstorm a little at a time is helpful. For example, I’ve started brainstorming a story idea on notecards. I have lots of notecards and write down a simple thing on each notecard.

5. There are days where you have to take care of yourself and rest and writing just won’t happen. If you can’t decide if you want to go back to bed after breakfast, you probably won’t be writing. Or maybe you’ll be writing after you take a nap.

How I use notecards/plan to use them: When I’m ready to actually sit down and write, I can grab one notecard at a time. I don’t need to start writing with chapters in mind. A first draft, or a pre-first draft, or a zero draft is just that… the very beginnings of a novel. The baby novel. The not ready to meet the world yet novel.

This advice works for everyone, but I think it’s especially important for anyone who is chronically sick or chronically ill and has to “count their spoons” to get through every day.


Camp NaNo starts in 2 hours

First month of Camp NaNo starts tomorrow – or in two hours since it’ll be midnight in about two hours for me.

I have no idea what to do about it or not to do about it. I haven’t been able to write because of health issues and, well, stuff. My health problems make it very very difficult to write long periods of time and regularly.

I can’t figure out how to give myself goals to get back into writing either.

I know I have this vague idea for writing a story/book/something where the world has zombies and magic and the/a protagonist is a woman who’s awesome at fighting zombies and just plain awesome.

Oh, hey. How did I manage to go like a whole month with no blog posts? What’s up with that?!

Look, a badger! with a gun!

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for

After being sick with a sinus infection for the first week or so of November, I’ve now been working on NaNoWriMo. When not being part of NaNoWriMo I’ve been knitting or going to doctor appointments.

Blog will probably continue to be quiet through the end of the month.

I need to figure out a way to blog, work on my writing, and work on the type of writing on writing websites that will make me bits and pieces of spare change.

That way needs to not just rely on my memory since my memory is shit.

My Go Fund me page is still around. It’s still depressing and needing some love.

Reasons to participate in NaNoWriMo

  1. Kickstart my creativity. I’ve been stuck in self-doubt and self-editor mode
  2. Step out of my comfort zone.
  3. Have to make some creative decisions
  4. Practice
  5. Face my fear of not succeeding because I haven’t succeeded at either Camp NaNoWriMo event this year
  6. Practice – yes, it’s so important I’m listing it twice
  7. I have time
  8. I have ideas
  9. If I’m going to be a writer I need to find the time, energy, and focus to write, somewhere, somehow.
  10. Have a deadline (the whole point of NaNoWriMo)

Does that mean I should go for it? hmmm. I think I’m leaning towards yes. Reasons to not participate in NaNoWriMo are basically one large word, followed by a few smaller words.
Health. Sanity. Stress

Writing Prompt idea

If you’re having a difficult time coming up with something to start writing or even a way to add something exciting to a larger plot – like a novel… then here’s an idea for you.

Start a list of all things, people, places and whatever that you have experienced which you could use as inspiration to write.

Don’t stop until you have at least fifty. Keep this list where you can find it again. So far, I’ve got 62.

Things and Stuff

This is a blog post about how I wish I had something to say because I’d like to write but lately there has been NOTHING.

I’m a bit numb because of everything going on with my health. Adding in more drugs. Having to do more things. Beginning to feel trapped at home.

While at the same time feeling like I need to get out of the house for a writing session to get back into writing. But, hey, this counts as writing!

I’m running out of time to decide if I’m going to participate in Camp NaNo in July – and what I’m going to write. I could “pants” something or I could start outlining something. No idea.

Numbness makes creativity difficult to process.

Being sick sucks when you’re already ill

I think the English language does not have enough words to explain things like sickness, illness, disease, infection, and the difference between chronic and acute. To me being sick is acute, like having an infection. Illness is chronic, like disease. So, when I have a kidney infection that means I’m sick on top of being ill since I have 2 chronic illnesses. (Or 3, does asthma count as a chronic illness?)

Same goes for pain. Acute pain and chronic pain are two entirely different animals too.

I suspect some people also only consider people sick if they are contagious. All of my problems are practically invisible right now.

The worst part? My chronic illnesses cause cognitive problems and being sick saps my energy even more.

I just want to be able to work on one of my writing projects but it’s been so long I can’t remember what I had planned, where I was, or where I was headed. Writers say write every day, well, I’d like to meet a writer with a chronic illness who still writes every day, regardless. Some days I’m lucky I can function.

First Attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo: Semi Useful

I see I have a blog post about my plan to do Camp NaNoWriMo (for the first time) but no blog post about what happened. Basically, health problems meant I didn’t meet my goal. Between multiple doctor appointments, a medical procedure that involved anesthesia, an ER visit, an allergic reaction to an insect bite (wondering spider since a recent ant bite only gave me the itchees) and then an allergic reaction to a new drug all meant that I had a super busy April minus normal things.

I did get started writing poetry and have some decent first drafts or rough ideas to work on. I also realized in this same month that waiting for test results and to (probably) start treatment for MS has done a lot to my mental state. As in it’s a lot of shit to deal with and just distracting yourself from this type of shit doesn’t help!

End result, I now have a project set up in Scrivener that is half poetry and half journals. I’m hoping to collect some of my thoughts as I go through this journey of rediscovering who I am because of what chronic illnesses has done to my life.

Also, writing daily when you don’t know what the next day could bring is very difficult. I’m going to start working on weekly and monthly writing goals instead of daily goals… while still aiming to update the blog a few days a week. But if I can’t? Then I can’t.

Today Recovery, Tomorrow Writing

Today I’m wearing a knit wool hat even though it’s 70 in here (and rising) and my head has menthol on it. The migraine is down but the nerves are still twingy AND I woke up an hour and half later than normal. I’m so stiff but I’m not sure I’ll be able to stretch today either.

Tomorrow Camp NaNoWriMo starts. I’m aiming to write some poetry. I’ve already done some minor brainstorming and set aside a notebook. I draft poetry better on paper. I’ve also got a book on types of poetry. I’m hoping to test my abilities and learn some things this month. I think I’ll plan on a novel for the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo, depending on what’s going on.

In preparation, I have printed out some signs to hang around the house. These kinds of images still amuse me.

Both found on the Internet – searched google for you should be writing Neil Gaiman pictures.

I’m hoping poetry written on paper, as compared to a novel in Scrivener, will make it easier to write even when I’m in doctor’s waiting rooms. I’ve got three doctor appointments and one lumbar puncture in the month of April. Here’s hoping the lumbar puncture does not cause me any headaches or leave me recovering flat on my back.

In other news, I’ve found decaf coffee I can drink with no unfortunate effects. I didn’t have coffee for last November’s NaNoWriMo.


you should be writing


Reading Progress

Books either read or finally finished since the start of 2014. My original goal was two books a month.

  1. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  2. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles book 1) by Patrick Rothfuss
  3. Legion by: Brandon Sanderson
  4. Perfect Shadow: A Night Angel Novella by: Brent Weeks
  5. The Emperor’s Soul by: Brandon Sanderson
  6. Magician: Apprentice by: Raymond Feist
  7. Game of Cages: A Twenty Palaces Novel by: Harry Connolly


Writing Short Stories and Mordor

I’m sitting here on the couch staring at my laptop wishing I could write something GOOD. Weather and such has been screwing with me and my brain is – here but not. (Also on Benadryl at the moment.) Long story short I did some googling. Specifically, I searched “How to write a short story” on Google. (Technically googling isn’t a thing, but whatever. Or has Google given up on that?)

I ended up reading through three very different pages about different opinions on how to write a good short story. The one on io9.com was the most fun to read and definitely the most interesting. The article on Huff’Post was useful because it made suggestions about keeping the story under 3500 words. The third one was on about.com and probably the most conflicting because it tells the writer to follow conventional story structure but still to know when to break the rules.

All together, these articles suggest to a potential writer to make sure every word and sentence means something and provides something to the reader – whether that be plot, setting, or character information. I probably liked the advice from the article on io9.com the most in that it also warned the writer against using that cool thing that gave them the story idea as the plot. I’ve come up with cool ideas and it’s hard to remember those cool ideas aren’t the plot. It’s just the gimmick that makes the story interesting and different. The ring is the gimmick, the walk to Mordor is the plot!


Haikus – My Little Pony

I had the random thought to do haikus for the leading characters of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Here they are.

Twilight Sparkle
Your friend and ally.
Student of magic studies.
She makes great lists too.

Pinkie Pie
Bouncing, always happy.
Thrower of awesome parties.
She will make you laugh.

Appreciates beauty.
Maker of anything fashion.
Spike loves her so.

Always a loyal friend.
Working hard and willing to share.
Apples, yum, apples.

Quiet, shy and loving.
She loves all the animals.
Brave warrior protecting.

Rainbow Dash
Bright and brave. She flies.
Exciting and strong.
Watch her blow away the clouds.

Haikus – our cats

Randomly, thanks to seeing something on twitter, I decided to try some haikus. Kind of like a writing prompt. After I looked up the proper format I tried out a few. Here’s what I came up with for our cats.

Buddy on the couch.
Pet the thick black and white fur.
The door bell rings. RUN!

Flooftastic brown fur.
Head butting and squeaking.
Lap cat only on her terms.

Gray tortie meows.
Ready to pounce her sister.
She wants your cracker.

Old man stoic cat.
Calm and loving brown tabby.
Purrs like a motorboat.

Writing Exercise – Day 6

Found here. I’m on Day 6 which promises to be fun, frustrating, and or interesting.

Day 6:
Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short story (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story.

I picked The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

First sentence is from chapter 35:

The force of the storm wall nearly knocked him unconscious, but the sudden chill of it knocked him lucid.

Last sentence is from chapter 17:

Just like every day.

I did keep looking for a first sentence until I found one that didn’t have a name in it. Brandon Sanderson as a specific style for his names that’s definitely fantasy and I didn’t want to feel trapped in fantasy. Last sentence was the first try.

Writing and Chronic Illness

I have this thing floating around in the back of my head. I’m trying to figure it out and give it some flesh and blood. What if fibromyalgia is what happens in my life that means I finally take the steps to become a full time writer? (Thankfully I have a supportive spouse in this equation.)

It’s weird because while wondering if my chronic illness is going to make it easier for me to change my life I’m also afraid my chronic illness has trapped me and I won’t be able to change my life.

The trick, I think, is to find a place to start. I’ve realized that writing is like mental exercise. I’ve started exercising at 10 minutes every day or every few days. We’ll play it by ear. I can do the same thing with my writing. To start. Blog posts don’t necessarily count.

I also recently read on the internet that on days you cannot write, you read about writing, or think about writing. I’m hoping this book will help too.

In theory, if the CoQ10 I’m now on seems to be helping my fibro fog. Exercise will also help. So, I just have to think about this like it’s a journey. You have to start someplace.