So since we’re in the middle of the insanity that is NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d talk about one of the major stumbling blocks I’ve had happen in the midst of past years. The kind of productivity derailment you can never see coming, and, more importantly, shouldn’t blame yourself for.
One of the scariest things about being a writer/editor/intern or any other type of “work from home on your own schedule” kind of person is that sad fact that you don’t get paid for sick days. Even if you have a day job (like I do right now), taking time away from your already tight schedule of deadlines on the writing/editing side of things can feel like tossing possible money down the drain.
Let’s be honest here: the kind of people who are bound and determine to write in the few hours they have outside of a day job probably aren’t lazy folks. We talk ourselves into getting up early or sitting at our computers late into the night to accomplish the things we love to do. Writing matters to us. Even during the mass procrastination periods, we are thinking about the things we want to be doing (probably panicking as well because hello procrastination LOL) and we still want to be accomplishing things. Once we’re out of the procrastination mode, we’ll set aside days or hours and guard them fiercely against all other distractions.
So what happens when those days or hours end up buried under the flu or an injury or some other crappy “could not be avoided” *cough*election2016*cough* derailment?
Even aside from the obvious event that may be coming to mind this year, a couple of months ago, I had this very thing happen: over the Labor Day weekend, I planned for so much writing and editing. I was super excited about my mile long list of projects and couldn’t wait to get started on everything. So of course, Friday morning I ended up in the doctor’s office for minor outpatient surgery which turned into an allergic reactions to antibiotics and then horribly painful side effects to the prednisone they gave me for the aforementioned allergic reaction.
Needless to say, I got no writing work done at all that weekend, or even in the week following due to still being on the various meds. And y’all I was SO FREAKING FRUSTRATED I could hardly stand it. I felt like such a failure for being unable to force myself to suck it up and either clear the med-fog from my brain or muscle through the joint pain to sit at a computer. I was without a doubt ill and injured, and all I could think was that I wasn’t trying hard enough to get through it and write.
We’re always harder on ourselves than we should be. Always. So really all I want to say here to wrap things up, is that shit happens. If you’re on a deadline or diving into NaNoWriMo and have something hit that’s out of your control, take a breath and let yourself be OK with it. Even when we plan ahead, the world doesn’t always work the way we tried to schedule it. And that’s just life. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to heal. You’ll get back to your book when you can. Taking a few days to recover from illness or financial stress or day job stress or election stress or WHATEVER it was that knocked you off track is worth it.
Your book will still be there when you get back to it, and it'll forgive you for the time you were away.