You may, at one point or another, find yourself in a position similar to myself: sick as a dog. Your nose is running a mile a minute, your head feels like concrete under a jackhammer, and your whole body wants nothing more than to stay sedentary for hours on end. Now people take being sick differently. Some may have the incredible ability to shrug it off and carry on with their lives. I, on the other hand, cannot do that. It is a miracle if I get out from under a blanket, and wallowing in self-pity becomes my dominant character trait. Sure it may just be a bad cold, but it might as well be the end of the world.
As someone who wants to put as much time as possible into writing, this presents quite a conundrum. I have sat myself in front of my computer or opened up my laptop in bed or on the couch. When I had the manuscript open, most typing was followed with frequent use of the backspace button, interspersed with naps. If you are anything like myself, sickness drains your creativity and your basic ability to make decent sentences, as if adding insult to injury. What is a writer to do?
Well I have found, firsthand this week, what I could do to still make progress as a writer even while being bed-ridden.
Edit: Do that thing that you never want to do when you’re in a good mood. Editing is not fun, it is not exciting, but it does not require your imagination to go into overdrive. The work is already there, so use your time when you’re unable to create things to polish the ones you have already created. It could be as simple as scanning for word choice, punctuation, formatting, etc. If you do come across something that needs a whole rewrite, feel free to take a crack at it. Personally, I highlight what needs a rewrite for a day when I am not pathetic.
Beta Read: You may not have thought of this one before, but beta reading has become a great pastime for me. Not only are you helping someone immensely, but you are still keeping yourself in the writing mindset and polishing your skills while you are at it. Personally, I use the community at Goodreads to help out - a place where people offer free or paid beta reading services, and you can post a need for readers yourself. Beta reading is a fantastic experience. It is both personally and professionally rewarding.
Just Read: If you don’t feel like keeping your eyes peeled for mistakes and areas for improvement, you can always just pick up whatever book you are currently reading and put another few chapters behind you! And this applies to any medium of expression - movies, television, whatever you may want. And don’t hesitate to jot down any ideas that a stimulated imagination might give you!
Tidy Up: Cleanliness is next to godliness, as the old saying goes. That, and studies have proven that stress decreases and productivity increases when you have a cleaner working area and home, which will only lead to a faster recovery. And this does not just mean your physical space, either. Take some time to update your website, manage your social media, look ahead for events or contests that may be coming. Get your calendar up to date so you are all set to go when you are feeling better.
Relax: While you may want to never lose a moment of productivity, the truth is that you sometimes need to just take a break. Your body needs energy and assistance to help fight off whatever is making you ill, so make sure it gets that. Rest and relaxation, lots of fluids, more oranges than you’ve had in the last year, anything that can reinforce your immune system. Take a nap, drink some soup to warm your soul, and get better.
It is not a fun time, being sick. Even if you handle it well, no one enjoys being ill and it always has some impact on your work, especially in a creative field. If you find, like I have, that viruses seem to block your creativity, there are a handful of options available to you.
Let me know in the comments what you do when you are sick. How do you stay productive? How do you get better, faster? As for me, I think I am back to my tea and my blanket for now