Monday, March 10, 2008

Sick Thoughts

Tip of the Day: Doctor’s offices can be places for inspiration. Read an article in a magazine you normally wouldn’t read for ideas, or bring pen and paper and make plotting notes while you’re waiting.

I’ve been feeling really run down lately—sick as a dog, actually—and it’s impacting my writing. When I’m sick, I just don’t have the energy to write the next chapter. Or at least I tell myself I don’t. How much physical energy does it take, right? I’m sitting my butt in a chair. You’d think I could manage that much.

But when I’m sick, the ideas don’t come. Nothing seems funny or interesting. My mind gets sort of mushy. Even a crossword puzzle feels dangerously close to thinking.

It’s not really the lack of energy from being sick, even combined with the full-time job and the kids who insist on eating on something ridiculous like a daily basis. It’s the negative thoughts. When I get sick, I’m 100% percent convinced that I have no talent and writing is a waste of my time.

Fortunately, I have enough experience to know that illness affects my self-esteem big time, so I can tell myself this is only temporary. I’ll feel better and I will once again be inspired to work through my plot problems. I will drive to work thinking of my characters instead of wondering if I remembered to bring decongestant. But in the meantime, the negative thoughts are hard to fight. Why am I trying to write a book? Am I enjoying it, or is it only drudgery that I’m not particularly good at? Now that I’ve figured out I’m not particularly talented or tenacious, shouldn’t I go back to bed?

Writer friends certainly help! This weekend we had a visit from an out-of-town writer friend and the special treat of a dinner out. I coughed through the whole thing, but it definitely lifted my spirits. So thanks ladies! And sorry about the coughing.

Today it’s back to me alone, staring at words on a computer screen while my mind whispers, “Forget those self-imposed deadlines. You can’t do it. Make your excuses. It’s too much for you. You’re not very bright. Remember when you argued with the bank teller that she was shortchanging you because she only gave you five twenties for $100?”

So take a break, right? Breaks sometimes make me feel worse, though. Like I’m saying I really can’t write, or worse, that I shouldn’t write. What I need is someone standing over me reminding me that I have no power of judgment when I’m sick. Does this happen to everyone? Misery loves company, but I’ve never heard anyone else say they think they should quit writing every time they catch a bad cold. Is this a common problem in the writing world?

Sickness never loans itself out to comedy, does it? Although remember the Muppet Show and Veterinarian Hospital? I loved that sketch.

So ... Tune in Next Week (as they used to say in voiceover) for our Luck O' the Query week! Luck, you say? We can debate it next week in our Continuing Story.

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer


Emily Marshall said...

Hope you feel better, Kate! I can't write much when I'm sick. Or do anything for that matter.

DeenaML said...

Oh yeah -- Veterinarian Hospital! Muppets and Puppets are usually good for lifting spirits, though I still can't write when my head is all foggy either. Unless you need a scene where someone is sick! Oooh -- maybe Holly hexes someone and they get bronchitis and you can write the scene abt how miserable they feel. :) Feel better soon!!!!

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

I LOVED the Muppet Show--always made me feel better! Kate, I know what you mean about the inverse relationship between the quicksilver and self-esteem. Seems like when my fever goes up, my creativity and sense of self-worth plummet. are amazing! Your ideas are fabulous! And D shared some of your ideas for the Highlights push you guys did after NaNoMo--wow! So cut yourself some slack and know that yes, other writers do hit the confidence skids when they are sick. And I agree with Deena, write down those miserable symptoms and feelings and use them for your stories.

It was so great to see you on Friday. Hope you feel better soon!

Kristina Springer said...

Feel better soon!!! I never even try to write when I'm sick. Give yourself a break--it's okay! :-)

Kate Fall said...

Thanks ladies! I'm easing up on myself and how untalented I am so I must be getting better.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Hope you feel better soon!!! I love that Muppets picture! :)