Is it really possible to thrive with chronic fatigue?
I was feeling optimistic when I wrote this post two years ago five things to like about chronic fatigue!
I’m still living with constant pain and chronic fatigue. I still push myself, and end up paying a price.
For example, I spent an enjoyable Saturday evening with writer friends (to celebrate the success of my RWA Ruby Winning friend Michelle Somers), and paid for it by: having to leave early and get a taxi home, spending Sunday in bed and lurching through the house like a drunken zombie; then collapsing back into bed after hospital tests on Monday, and again after just 3 hours in my part-time job on Tuesday. It’s not much fun having no energy 🙁
Believe it or not, I’ve also got a much better understanding of how much I can do and when I need to stop.
It’s the self awareness that is critical I think.
I find I write best in the morning. So I try and stick to a schedule where I write first (even if the house is a complete pigsty and the cupboards are bare) and prior to doing other things that are important.
By the way, for anyone that remembers me from pre-illness days … I can confirm that my old compulsion to keep the kitchen and bathroom sparkling clean has been obliterated!
It’s all about making choices
In one day I can either use my brain or I can do a little physical activity. I struggle to do both. So on days that I’m doing something fun-or attending to adult responsibilities-I can’t write; on days that I write a decent number of words I can’t do much activity.
If everything goes to plan, and I can concentrate on writing rather than marketing or admin, I can usually manage 2,500 to 3,000 words in a week. I know of productive writers, who manage 10,000 words a day routinely. I really don’t know how they do it!
One thing that chronic fatigue does…Is focus the mind on what is really important. As a writer, the most important thing is writing books. I’d love to be able to write two books in a year. I have the ideas! Too many ideas sometimes.
But at my word rate, that kind of productivity is just impossible. Even if everything goes according to plan, realistically I can achieve a 90,000 word draft in six months. And then editing and completion in another six months. Which means one book in a year and that’s at best, not allowing for anything that interrupts my work and rest schedule.
So, it’s simple. I change my mind set.
I don’t try and write two a books year. I don’t even try and write one book a year. I aim to write one book in 18 months, giving myself plenty of time to get it done professionally so that I’m proud of it (and still allowing for all of life’s emergencies).
Marketing yourself, and your own work is a whole other issue which I have blogged about separately. It’s mental work, it’s draining and reduces writing time. But it’s absolutely essential to be visible and ensure your work gets discovered.
Truth Unveiled has taken two years from first words on paper, to finished product launched out into the world. That’s a long time in today’s fast moving digital age. An option I’m now exploring, is writing a shorter form a novella.
That’s a shorter version of a perfectly formed novel. Probably around 40,000 to 50,000 words. With a simpler storyline and structure, the draft should be easier to write and edit. Meaning it should be quicker to produce.
I’m almost 7,000 words into the novella I started, I’ll report back in another blog post how well it works!
But to come back to the question, is it possible to thrive with chronic fatigue? I think the answer is yes, with the right mindset.
I’m not saying you have to give up on your dreams. But on the path to getting there, those of us with chronic fatigue need to take smaller steps, take more rest stops, take more time to live in the present and enjoy the scenery on the way.