As you may have guessed by the title and my lack of posting the last two weeks, I’ve been struggling with migraines. Again. For anyone who deals with these beasts you know what I mean by struggle. For anyone who hasn’t you’re probably thinking, “Just take some Excedrin Migraine. Duh.” No. Not Duh. A Migraine is NOT just another headache and sometimes the over the counter stuff just doesn’t cut it, no matter what the commercial says. For anyone wondering how this relates to writing (since that’s what I’m supposed to be posting about) stay tuned.
First let me say that migraines are worse than headaches because of the following: They aren’t just painful they’re excruciating, they can be caused by so many different things it’s difficult or even impossible to find the source, they can be accompanied by everything from flashing lights to nausea, for some people (like me) they can start at the highest level of pain without warning, they can last for days or weeks or for some even months, and often times they make it impossible to think at all. Bad enough? Good. O.K. Rant over.
Now, this all relates to my writing because, well, when I have one I CAN’T write. Not even a little bit. Even thinking about looking at a screen can hurt. Even opening my eyes can hurt. If I’m shuffling from the bed to the bathroom with one hand clamped over my eyes and the other waving sadly in front of me trying to find whatever hard edge I’m about to stub my toe on, I’m probably having a level 10. I consider myself one of the lucky ones though, mine usually only last a few hours. sometimes, Like the last few weeks, they restart later that day but at least I get a break. Unfortunately that break is usually taken up with all the chores and important things I didn’t get to do when my head was splitting into tiny fragments.
O.K. Rant over, for real.
So what do you do when you run into your particular form of Kryptonite and physically can’t write? There are some options:
You can speak. If the words are there but you can’t type or write, talk it out. You can use a voice recorder, video yourself on your phone, or speech to text into your document.
You can read. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from your story to learn more about your craft. That includes both studying the writing process itself and reading GOOD writing. Pick a book that has great reviews, is a classic, or even one you’ve read before and love for your own reasons. Besides the basic enjoyment of reading a good story, you’ll be reminded of what good writing looks like, from the readers perspective.
You can Research. Yes, it’s a form of reading but I consider this separate because I’m talking specifically about researching your story. Look up the difference between mausoleum and sarcophagus (subtle difference but there are some. I learned that for my first book) or whatever details you need for your story. Were you stuck on some of the back story for your main character? look up different jobs and hobbies to figure out what they do when they’re not saving the world. Giving your characters realistic depth will make them more believable, even if your readers never find out that they were studying to be a dentist.
If you can’t do any of those… just relax. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, and worrying or kicking yourself over things that are out of your control won’t do anything but hurt you. Instead consider this time an investment in yourself. No matter what your job, you are your most valuable asset. If you aren’t healthy then you aren’t working at your full potential.
Take care of YOU.