From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
Dozens of you have asked me, both privately and in comments, how I write with a chronic health condition.
There really is a trick to the writing while chronically ill. But the trick is personal, and it’s tailored to each individual person.
So, more personal stories—and then tips.
I have many many many allergies. It’s taken years to identify them, particularly the food allergies. I’m deathly allergic to perfume and soaps (particularly anything with manmade glycerin) and that causes more problems than I can say. It’s also the allergy that’s forcing me to rethink travel.
The worst health problem I have, though, is chronic migraines. From the age of 19 on, I got migraines so severe and long-lasting that I would lose weeks to them. By the time I reached my mid-thirties, I would have migraines 21-25 days per month.
And yes, those were the years I was building my career, and editing The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I was working at an international level career, traveling (even though it made me sicker), and was horribly ill through much of it.
. . . .
So…how did I work with all of that? Mostly, I didn’t. That’s the odd thing. If I had a nine-to-five day job, I would have had to go on disability, like so many of my friends in similar situations. Either that or have a truly understanding boss, one who knew I wasn’t faking when I said I couldn’t come in until the afternoon—and maybe not even then.
With the exception of one job I had with a truly understanding boss, I never worked traditional hours. When I had day jobs, I had unusual ones, the kind with flexible hours or the kind that were performance based. (If I finished all my work, I could go home.)
So, as we’re talking about working through chronic health problems, keep in mind that as writers, we’re in control of our own schedules. We figure out how to manage the day-to-day business.
. . . .
So I evolved around the migraines.
Here’s what I realized I could control:
- I could control the triggers—and avoid them.
- I could exercise. The migraines got better if I exercised. And I could run (or walk) with a migraine and, magically, the migraine often got better.
- I could divide my work days according to the migraines. Remember, I told you that I could work through some migraines. The key for me was to try to do the actual work I wanted to do. If that wasn’t possible, then I would move to “easier” work. If that wasn’t possible, then the couch it was for me for the rest of the day, so I could work the following day.
- I could prioritize everything. Rather than try to do all of the work all the time, I could divide the work into things that I absolutely couldn’t miss to the things I could let slide. (Filing, I’m looking at you.)
. . . .
I came up with a list.
I needed to:
Write Every Day
Exercise Every Day
Manage My Food Intake
Get Enough Sleep
Sounds simple, right? But simple was what I needed, what I still need.
Notice what’s missing from the list? No email, no website work, no promotion. Those weren’t my priorities, and still aren’t. Those things can—and often do—wait.
Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.