10 Quick Tips for Writing While Sick

Monday night, I felt a twinge at the back of my throat. By Tuesday morning, I was in full-blown cold mode, foggy and scratchy and watery-eyed. Here are a few of the ways I attempted to write through a week of being sick. 

Credit: Smabs Sputzer, flickr.com
Credit: Smabs Sputzer, flickr.com

10. Read the labels on medicine before you take it.

Protip: Alka-Seltzer Cold & Flu may cause marked drowsiness, even though there’s a sun on the package and it’s not marked “night-time” or anything else (in a point size you can read) that would indicate when you should take it. (When in doubt: If your medicine is marked, “Do not drive or use heavy machinery while taking this product,” it’s for night-time.)

9. Put absolutely everything you need within arm’s reach.

Distractions ratchet up their attractiveness when you’re attempting to work while sick. If you’re stretched out on the couch with your laptop (like I am right now), make sure you’ve got tissues, tea, water, a garbage pail for tissues, lotion, Chapstick and everything else you need right there, so you have no possible reason  to get up from your writing position.

8. Go to the bathroom before you start.

See number 9.

7. If you have a head cold, do some light housework before you start writing.

Moving around helps clear your sinuses and gives you a little bit of energy. When you sit down to write, your head won’t immediately feel like it weighs 1,000 pounds.

6. Try writing standing up.

Applicable to head colds and other minor ailments. Excludes nausea.

 5. Invest in a supportive chair pad or pillow for your head.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a severe head or sinus cold, I’m on a hair-trigger for migraines, with my neck being the most likely culprit. If I’m not sitting properly, a productivity-ending headache is virtually guaranteed. Every. Time.

4. Alternate hot and cold drinks.

Hot tea. Ice water. Throat bothering you? Try warming up honey (with some antimicrobial properties and a soothing, throat-coating texture) and following that up with an ice pop, like you’re back in elementary school. Laugh if you want. I had Strep a LOT as a kid, and trust me, it works. Just make sure both drinks are within arms’ reach (see #9, above).

Credit: Magnus Brath, flickr.com
Credit: Magnus Brath, flickr.com

3. Set a very short timer for yourself.

Give yourself 10-minute writing periods, then rest and close your eyes for ten minutes. Keeps your limited energy around a little bit longer.

2. Lay off on the goals and fumble the stuff that’s not on deadline.

Know what’s annoying when you’re sick? Being annoyed. And that’s exactly how you’ll feel if you don’t relax a little bit to give yourself time to recover.

1. Certain illnesses are a get-out-of-writing-free card.

They include: Nausea, hand injuries, anything requiring sedation, fevers above 100 degrees F, and nausea. Especially nausea. Give your muse a siesta and concentrate on not hurling, ok? The blank page will be there in the morning, I promise.

What are your best tips for writing while sick? Share them in the comments!