All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, April 9, 2021

When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers

For those who were looking forward to one of my lengthy discussions about what to look for in an adjective or a rant about how too many people use the passive voice, today is not your day. I know how I insist that writing is always possible, but there are exceptions even to that rule. In this case, my health has put a few constraints on my ability to focus and put together an impassioned plea for better dialogue or even a piece on writing the best haiku. 

I will, however, offer a few notes on what to do if this situation befalls you. A number of my writer friends have chronic health issues: migraines that make it impossible to even look at a bright screen, vertigo that can make any prolonged action difficult, severe depression that holds them fast to their bed - the list goes on. Throughout these issues, there is one lingering frustration throughout the entire episode - they genuinely want to do some writing, but they are confronting limitations that are difficult to overcome. I have my version as well, so here's what I do.

First, I give myself permission to not push myself to create against the wants of my health. I write it off to creative force majeure - events beyond my control make an obligation impossible to satisfy. As long as I am honest with myself and admit that being creative would come at a price to my wellbeing that I should not pay, this is okay. It absolves me of guilt, and I can tend to my more immediate needs.

Second, I consider my actual needs. You might have noticed I refer to the urge to create a lot in this piece rather than specifically writing, and there's a reason. Writers are creative types, and the urge to write stems from the same source for them as it does for musicians, artists, and so on: the urge to create. Sometimes when I know I am in no shape to write but feel the need to create, I go through alternate sources. I have my guitar and piano to tinker with (what I create with those is hardly music, but it allows me to bring something new to life). I have my sketchpad as well for simple doodling, and a bunch of colored pencils. None of them qualify as writer tools, but they address my urge to create without wearing me down in the way that writing does. 

Lastly, if my capacity to create is still too limited to do any of those things, I try to enjoy the creations of others. Listening to music at low volume. reading (if possible), or the simple pleasure of skimming through a book with lots of pictures (I am finding particular enjoyment in the book, Dictator Style, a lovely pictorial of the lifestyles of some of the world's most famous dictators). If I can't create something, I at least let my mind roam through what others have created. 

On that note, I am going to retire to a safe place and tend to the obligations of my health. I am sure I will somehow answer my need to create, and soon enough I will get back to my writing. Until then, enjoy!

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