Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get Down With the Sickness

by Allison Pang

Well, if there's one thing that being in constant chronic pain has taught me, it's that you can work through damn near anything.

If you really want to.  (Exceptions being made for the previously mentioned stomach bugs of the earlier posts - no one should have to do *anything* if foreign matter is coming out of either direction in the pipes. So, free pass there.)

But that's the kicker, isn't it?

There's this interesting thing about being able to call the shots on when and how you work. Writing books is lot like being able to work a day job from home. Some people have the discipline to do what they need to do...and others really benefit from having a manager and an office to answer to.

Same with writing - deadline or not, I think you have to look at your writing pattern. Do you routinely get whatever writing done that you need to? Or are you slacking off and wasting precious hours on tumblr and facebook?  (Not that I would know *anything* about that. At all Nope. Not me.)

On the other hand - writing is NOT my day job. I've lamented in the past about not being able to quit the mundane tasks that keep food on my table. I'd love to be able to support myself on my writing, but I fully recognize that may never happen. At the moment it's a secondary job that brings in some nice extra cash here or there.

The advantage to that  is that I'm the only one who gets hurt by my slacking - not writing today doesn't mean my kids aren't eating tomorrow, and that makes a huge difference. It's a luxury to be able to decide if I want to play hooky or not.

So when it comes to taking a sick day from writing, I think a lot depends on other factors - is there a deadline looming? Can I afford to skip a day or two?

Sometimes there's a fudge factor involved. Am I actually too sick to write? Does it make sense to rest up for the needed time and work when I'm fresh vs struggling in the throes of cotton-head? Or am I looking for an excuse to just take a mental health day? (Which actually sometimes really does need to happen.)

But the key is to taking a day off is knowing it won't derail me the rest of the week - what I don't want is to be happily clicking away in my routine - and have the day off push me into a holding pattern of not working for several days. (Easy to do - one day ends up becoming two days, ends up becoming an entire week. "Oh, I'll write tomorrow when I'm *really* feeling better. Right after I kill these zombies." Uh huhhhhh)

In general I tend to feel pretty guilty if I don't get a word count in - but at the moment, I'm not on deadline (for the first time in well over 3 years).  I was also pretty burned out in the November/December timeframe. I absolutely needed a break and I gave myself one. The writing wasn't happening the way I wanted it to, and it was very discouraging to realize that I *didn't* want to write at all. The stories were still in my head and I was brainstorming and taking notes, but I had zero interest in actually putting it on paper.

So, I decided not to push it - if writing happened over the holidays, great. If not? Well, so be it. I needed to focus on family matters and give myself a chance to relearn what it meant to write for fun. And also play a shit-ton of Lego Lord of the Rings, apparently.

The offshoot is now I'm back to writing every day and it feels *good* to be  in the swing again. I'd rather write than play video games. (This is key, for me.) On top of that, I ended up plotting out most of another UF series that I also started working on. (And I had been completely empty of ideas before the break).

And Lego LotR? Back on the shelf, where it belongs. :)

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that taking a break got you back in your writing groove again. And I think you hit the nail on the head here, Allison. It all depends on where you are in your career, whether you need the income, and whether you're on deadline. When there's nothing pushing you, it's so much easier to take a sick day - and to make those sick days linger.