Wednesday, 9 May 2012

When To Stop, When To Keep Going

I've not been well the last ten days.  I've run through a complete symptom list: nausea on Monday, headache on Tuesday, ear ache on Wednesday and so on.  Because I've had a full teaching schedule I've ploughed on, hopefully not spreading my germs too widely (although if one particular student doesn't go down with the lurgy their immune system must be brilliant).

Now I'm just about coming out of it, but I'm tired and lacking energy.  (BTW did I mention there's been quite a bit of Poor Little Me going on chez moi?)  What with my cold and keeping on teaching, something had to give, and yesterday it was the blog; many apologies for its non-appearance.

But my writing has also taken a back seat.  I've not touched the WIP for what seems like ages and I'm beginning to get worried that it somehow won't be there when I get back to it.  There are reasons why I should take my own advice and write something every day....

On the other hand, there are also sometimes reasons why taking a few days off might actually be beneficial.  At the moment, I've finished a draft and I'm about to embark on a new one.  Having a time lapse helps get some distance so I can see the mistakes more clearly and, hopefully, know what to do to fix them.

And there are other times when being creative is impossible.  I stopped completely after my father died; there was nothing there, no spark, no energy, no life.  Major life upheavals occur, and only a machine could write their way through them.

Then there is laziness.  Complacency.  Denial.  I'd like to lose a stone, but I also ate a whole tub of ice cream yesterday evening.  It may have been my consolation prize for feeling grotty, but it doesn't get me nearer my end goal.

Writing doesn't write itself, more's the pity.  No one else can judge whether you need a break or if it's just a touch of laziness but at some point writing has to be done if you want to get something written.



10 comments:

Shauna said...

Hope you'll soon be feeling great Sarah.

There are definitely times when you're best to leave the writing to a more creative time, and there's a world of difference between that and just plain lazy.

I also found it impossible to keep going with the WIP after my father died, and last year when my mother died was the same. You just have to do what's right for you rather than beating yourself up over it, and know that someday the spark will come back

Stephanie Laura Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Laura Jones said...

Brilliant post Sarah and I totally agree.

I found out a few days ago that my Nana has lung cancer and it devastated me. I could barely make it through the day, never mind write, but now I feel somewhat inspired by my Nana and how she’s determined to battle the cancer to the end and this has made me want to write again.

Writing is such an emotional and mind draining process, and if you're not well to begin with it can make you worse. You have to start to heal first and come back to the writing when it's time. But when it's time isn't always when you want it to be.

Philip C James said...

No-one begrudges you R&R time away from the blog when you have been so unwell, Sarah (and if they do, point them at your extensive archive of good advice)

Glad you're on the mend...

Jim Murdoch said...

I worry that I’m being lazy when mostly the worst you could accuse me of is being inefficient. There are, of course, reasons why I’m not as efficient as I’d like to be—or imagine I should be—but it’s hard not to think of them as excuses. There’s always more than one way to look at anything. The worst is to compare yourself to others; that, with me anyway, leads to guilt, such an unproductive feeling. I’ve been thinking a lot about the effect the Internet has on us as writers and I think that as much as it has real benefits it can also have a detrimental effect on us. At the very least it wastes our time and the time of others but we convince ourselves that it’s necessary and important. It’s easy to let things get in the way of our writing. Sickness is something I’ve always resented. I rarely take to my bed preferring to soldier on—I mean, what are we doing other than sitting in a chair typing? What’s so hard about that?—but that’s where I’ve gone wrong in the past; there are times you do need to lie down to it and if you don’t you pay later. If you’re a real writer it doesn’t matter if you’re away from the keyboard for a day or a year; it’s like riding a bike. Sorry to hear you’ve been poorly though.

womagwriter said...

Get well soon, Sarah.

I think writing, like many things in life, goes through natural cycles up and down. You have to accept this, but during a downturn, make sure you're ready for the upturn when it comes. As it will.

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

I do sympathise. I suffered from the same bugs from October until Christmas, and I still have awful trouble with the ear infections, not yet cured. I have had a huge setback on the WIP, for reasons too long to explain on here. You are working full time and you have heavy commitments. It's inevitable that you have to ease up a bit until you feel better. As long as you put up three blog posts a week, you can maintain its presence. As for the writing, I do a little bit on the WIP each day, and try not to worry myself to death over it. I'm hoping that if I keep chipping away, I will eventually solve the problem. Good luck and I hope you can take some time out to recover, difficult I know, with Summer Term and end of year exams, dissertations and all that. I hope you feel better soon.

Penelope Alexander said...

Sympathies on the health front, Sarah, and hope you're feeling better soon.

Writingwise, I'd say for me the main problem connected with any time [times; there are many!] away from the WIP is a tendency to re [re-re-] read the entire piece to get started again. Bad Habit :-)

Sarah Duncan said...

Thanks for all your good wishes. I hope no one thought Poor Little Me was fishing for sympathy... *departs, coughing pathetically*

Marina Sofia said...

Hope you are better now. I just wanted to say 'Hear, hear!', as sometimes I fish for justifications for not getting on with writing...