1. Rust forms quickly.
Most writers will tell you to write everyday, and it’s good advice. Know why? Because if you don’t, you lose the momentum and the words. I was on a roll with my current novel when I ended up in the hospital. Then I didn’t write for almost eight weeks. When I finally had the energy to get back to my novel, it took me another two weeks of struggling to get back into it because I had to rediscover the narrator’s voice and I even struggled with vocabulary. So if you can, write everyday…unless you’re in the hospital.
2. Your physical and mental health take priority over everything.
It was hard, hard, hard not writing while I was sick, but some things like oh, I don’t know, my health, take precedence. I had to learn to put writing on the backburner while I recovered, something that was hard for me to do. The break was necessary though because as much as I love to write, it’s definitely hard to do if you’re dead.
3. Every word counts.
In those first two weeks back at writing, I couldn’t do my 500-words-a-day-minimum. I just didn’t have the energy or mental focus. But I could get a solid 100 words, and even that adds up. You may not have a lot of writing time in your life, but with a daily few dozen words here and there you’ll eventually have a finished novel.
4. Every experience is somehow usable.
While I was sick, a lot of people said, “Well, at least you have a lot of material for your next book.” I didn’t tell them I had no intention of writing about what I’d gone through or subject my characters to an extended hospital stay, but I soon realized that while I may not write about catheters, scans, and surgeries, I could use the emotions I had during that time. I feel like I now have a better foundation to write about fear, uncertainty, and pain than I ever did before.
5. Keep a notebook handy.
This is considered standard writing advice, but I didn’t actually practice it until I got sick. Maybe it was the high fever I had for a few days, or the suitcase of pills I had to take daily, but I had a lot of strange visions and ideas in that time. Many of them I wrote down, a lot of them make zero sense now that my brain is clear, but the more ideas you have to pull from, the better, so write them all down.