I’m a writer, I love to write. I’m always tapping out or scribbling down something. It saved me from a lot when I was a child. When I was scared or alone or hurt, I’d grab my pens and pad and start writing a story. I’d disappear into this make believe land I’d created inside my head. I’d write about things that were so far from reality, that I wouldn’t have to think about real life anymore. The ultimate dream is to write a book and have it published. I dream of walking into my favourite bookstore and seeing my book on the shelves amongst all the books I love to read.
Improving as a writer means discipline. It means finding the motivation from somewhere inside to write. It means writing when you have zero motivation or inspiration. It’s hard to keep that up no matter what but when you feel like your brain is on fire it can feel impossible.
Becoming a good writer takes time and practice, and the only way to improve and learn is by putting pen to paper. I’ve been taking some time lately to find ways to help me battle the brain fog so I’ve compiled some of the tips I’ve found helpful when writing with a chronic illness.
1. Pace Yourself.
Don’t force yourself to do a ridiculous amount of writing everyday. If one day all you can manage is a line then that’s ok – well done you for writing something! Don’t be tempted to burn yourself out if you don’t feel well enough – you might find that forcing yourself to finish that one piece could mean you aren’t able to do anything else for the rest of the week. If you find yourself losing concentration consider taking a break. Grab a drink, go outside and breathe for a while.
2. Write Everyday.
Like I said above – if you can only manage a line, then write a line. The most important thing to remember is to get something down everyday. Keep your brain active, keep challenging the brain fog so you don’t get bogged down. You can even set a reminder on your phone or stick a post-it note on the fridge so you don’t forget.
3. Celebrate Your Achievements.
I think it’s important for any writer, whether you have a chronic illness or not, to celebrate any and every achievement (no matter how small). It’s helpful in maintaining motivation and reminding yourself that you can do this.
4. Stay Organised.
This is important for any writer. Whether you use a bullet journal, a planner or a digital app. One of the biggest things I’ve found when I don’t use my bullet journal is that I become overwhelmed with all my projects and I end up not getting anything done.
5. Always Carry a Notebook.
Whether you use a traditional notebook or a digital app, it’s important to have a place where you can write down your ideas. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve lost great ideas because I’ve not written them down right away.
6. Don’t compare yourself to other writers.
I’m guilty of this myself. Sometimes it’s hard to not get frustrated when you see other writers powering through their novels when you’re struggling to gather the concentration to write anything. But at the end of the day – it isn’t how slow you go, it’s about the end product. I still haven’t found peace with the fact it takes me longer to get stuff done because of my illness (not just in the writing world, but with other things in life too). I’m trying to get better at not comparing myself to others. It’s a work in progress but comparing can be so detrimental in your writing journey.
7. Try Audiobooks.
One of the most important things a writer can do is read. But sometimes when you suffer from symptoms that can prevent you from reading a traditional book or a eBook, you don’t get a lot of reading done. Audiobooks can help because you don’t have to hold a physical book and read the words – all you have to do is listen. Audible can be slightly expensive if you don’t have a lot of money – but here is a free app available on the Apple App Store. It’s hasn’t got the biggest selection of books as it’s free but there are still some great finds on there. Charity shops also sometimes have cheap audiobooks, and your local library should have a decent selection to choose from.
8. Above all else, believe in yourself.
Having a chronic illness (whether it’s a physical or mental illness) is tough going but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams and goals in life. It may take a little longer to get there, but you can still achieve everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Keep going – you’re doing great.
These are my top tips for writing when you have a chronic illness. I hope there are things in here that can help you on your writing journey.
Do you have any tips for writing with a chronic illness? Let me know in the comments – any help will be much appreciated.