Now, as many of you will know, I’m a little obsessive when it comes to workload. It’s an obsession born out of passion of course - I’m as much a writeaholic as I am a workaholic. The graphic novel, Shelf Help, Libiro, and of course multiple books in the works… my projects are myriad and ever-demanding. It’s one of the main things I love about this job of mine. It’s part of my nature.
But alas, my heavy work ethic has come back to bite me on the posterior. And bite me hard.
As you may have seen on Twitter or Facebook over the last week or so, I’ve gone from full-tilt to very little tilt at all, unless you count being horizontal on the couch, the bed, or the floor as a tilt. Even though I am supposed to be powering towards the finish line of the brand new western fantasy book I’m working on, a virus has had other ideas. Those other ideas include a serious bout of man-flu, followed by Bell’s Palsy.
Bell’s Palsy is a strange thing indeed. If you haven’t come across it before, it’s a temporary paralysis of the face. It can be caused by a range of things, including an injury or a virus, and causes an inflammation of the nerves that control your facial muscles. In short, one side of your face refuses to work. In my case, both sides have refused to work. It’s rare but not unheard of, and while not necessarily painful, it can last several weeks and is incredibly inconvenient. The cure? Rest, and plenty of it.
Rest is not in a writeaholic’s dictionary. It definitely is not in mine. I find the very concept irritating. Rest is not progress. Rest is wasted time.
Or so I thought.
Now I’m not writing this blog for reasons of sympathy. Aside from explaining the radio silence, I wanted to share with you the important lesson that this little swine of a virus has taught me. And that is this:
If writing is paramount, then the ability to write is even more so.
This period of illness has made me realise that this writeaholic needs to be a little more measured, needs to stay healthy, and needs to learn that knowing when to rest is as important as knowing when to work. I’ve discovered that taking a step back can actually be a great thing indeed, not just to de-stress yourself, but to keep yourself objective.
That’s right - all this time on the couch watching boxsets of Game of Thrones and the entire back-catalogue of Schwarzenegger movies has forced me to do one thing above everything else: think. Over the past few weeks, getting to grips with this “rest” thing, I’ve managed to put some real thought into this new novel of mine. I’ve managed to re-analyse it, restructure it, and to step back and make sure I’m heading in the right direction. It’s enabled me to refine it without even touching the keyboard. And it’s not just the book I’ve been thinking about. I’ve rewritten my schedule for the next few months, re-assessed what’s important to me, and ultimately, reached several key decisions about what to write next and what to focus on after this book. In short, this little virus has been a blessing in disguise (even if it is an infuriating disguise).
So, my friends and fellow writers, please de-stress once in a while, for the sake of your novels, your career, and your sanity. Kicking back and having a little you-time, a little mental one-on-one, can not only help you unwind and avoid falling ill, but it can also help you maintain perspective on your projects. I know I’ll be spending my time a little more wisely in the future, once this virus has buggered off, and I know it’ll pay dividends down the line.
For those of you that may be worried that my new novel is delayed - fear not. Like I said I’ve reshuffled my priorities and I can safely say that writing is still at the top of the to-do list. I may have lost a few weeks, but I’m slowly getting back on track. You can expect more snippets, more tweets, more posts, more blogs, and more me over the coming weeks - just a less stressed me, and a hopefully more productive me.
In the meantime, wish my face luck, and as soon as it’s back to normal I will be back on the BenCasts.