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Are YOU a real writer?

Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day. —Norman Mailer

I’ve read and shared this quote from Norman Mailer multiple times. He gives good advice: real writers work even when they don’t sleep well, the kids get sick, and the basement floods. Last week, I had an opportunity to see if I was a “real writer,” at least according to Norman Mailer’s quote.

On Tuesday, I woke up with an upset stomach. I showered, put on clean pajamas, and kept working. I had to meet a deadline for my new book, Write-A-Thon, edit a periodical, and attend a coach training event. All morning, I wrote while repeating my mantra, “I am not that sick. I can still work. I will meet my deadlines.” Then came the body aches and the fever. I had been absolutely determined not to get in bed, but once the aching started, I couldn’t concentrate anymore.

As I watched a marathon of the Bravo TV show, Million Dollar Listing, I wondered if it was possible to both take care of myself and stay somewhat productive. I knew that there were a ton of things I always said I wanted to do next time I was sick. Unfortunately, I could not remember a single one of them. I vowed that when I got better, I would come up with a list of things that make being sick worthwhile for writers and artists!

1.  Sleep. Rest helps you to recover faster. At least that’s what my mom used to tell me. Plus the dreams you have when you are sick are wacky and fun. Jot down the best dreams and use them for inspiration next time you have writer’s block.

2.  Have a Film Fest. I rarely get a chance to lie in bed and watch movies. When I got sick, I had no idea what to watch. Next time you have a free moment, make a list of everything you’d like to watch. Next time you are sick, tired, or just in need of some inspiration, you’ll be prepared! Sit back and enjoy.

3.  Read. Last week, I happened to be halfway through a grizzly murder mystery that did not distract me but left me feeling worse. My husband came to the rescue with a gentle book by Clyde Edgerton, Walking Across Egypt. Keep a stash of books you want to read “someday.” Next time you get sick or snowed in, you’ll be prepared!

4. Take notes. When I was not watching television, reading, or sleeping, I had plenty of time to think. I could dream up new ideas, describe the ache in my toe, or record interesting facts. Next time you are sick, take your journal to bed—so you have somewhere to write all those new thoughts.

5.  Surf the net. I spend so much time on the computer for work, I rarely have time to seek out great blogs, resources, and other tools for myself and my clients. What do you long to know more about? Make a list of all the information you’d research online if only you had the time. Next time you have the time, you’ll know what to search for!

All in all the week worked out okay. I read several books, watched a whole lot of bad but interesting television, and still managed to meet most of my deadlines. Next time, though, I’ll be more prepared to make the most out of being sick!

How about you, writers? What do you do to stay productive while you are sick?



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