It’s Not Writer’s Block, It’s ‘Pain Brain’
I’ve been writing for so long that it generally comes easy for me, even when I’ve had weeks full of coughing fits (If anyone knows a cough medicine that really works, feel free to clue me in. All the various 12 hour versions aren’t doing a lot for me unless taken immediately before falling asleep. Sleep doesn’t always happen for me at the moment.), physical pain, horrific migraines, and burn out exhaustion. And yet, I still have creativity alight in my brain, firing off all kinds of ideas.
Like most writers some of best ideas come to me in the shower, or as I’m drifting off to sleep. I often have to decide if I’m going to fall out or if I’m going to shake myself awake and jot something down. I can hear myself as I’m drifting off saying “I will remember this in the morning.”, as a mantra. Every so often I wake up out of nowhere at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning with an idea that must be done Right.This.Minute. Sometimes that demand takes 20 minutes, and other times it means I’m going to lose some serious amount of sleep as I sit in front of the computer and pour whatever it is I was thinking out until I am completely drained. The important thing is that I listen to my intuition, my inner voice. When it wakes me up and has something to say, I try to listen and write carefully.
I will never be one of those writers that says “This book came to me in a dream.” or “This character came to me when I was doing <insert random task here>.” I definitely believe that we are all given signs and shown things that only we would know are messages meant for us, but I’m also a firm believer that it’s what we do with those messages that makes things happen. If something pops into your head, but you never put ink to paper, then you’ve missed out on an opportunity and you have no idea what direction it may have taken you in.
The other night I was trying to sleep, but I couldn’t. I absolutely refuse to be the person that tosses, turns, and throws pillows around until morning, it’s incredibly fruitless and even more exhausting, so after 20 minutes or so I grabbed my Kindle and went back to reading. A few pages in on something that has absolutely nothing to do with what I am writing, a character popped into my head. I could see her, plain as day, except she was anything, but plain and she demanded to be written into creation. I immediately put the Kindle down and added her to the cast of characters for Book 1. I’m completely charmed by her, and I think people will love her when they meet her. She’s unique, and even though I’ve repeatedly said I did not want to delve into certain areas of mythology, sometimes we don’t really have a say when a character that rich shows itself. Again, it’s about listening to your intuition. This was a character that refused to be ignored. Most of my characters are like that, but somehow they all seem to fit together within the world I have created. Lots of strong personalities that, under normal circumstances, might be difficult placing into a room. On paper, the possibilities are endless. Things you can’t convey in other ways can always be conveyed in book form.
Don’t get me wrong: I spend plenty of time staring at what I’ve already written, unable to do more than add a sentence here and there, if that. ‘Pain brain’ is incredibly hard to work through. I have a very high threshold for pain, but certain things are too much for me and really put me out of commission. I have to be careful with other things because if I move around too quickly after a migraine, it will often resurface with much more intensity than the previous migraine. If it’s my neck or my shoulder, it can flare up again just as quickly as the pain went away. I forget sometimes that I have some physical limitations, but I try to remind myself that the areas in which I am limited are not the areas that really count. I may not be able to clean the house from top to bottom in a matter of a few hours any more, but there are so many others things I CAN do, so to put myself down and attempt to diminish my accomplishments is what I call “self-abuse”. I’ve “self-abused” myself for so many years. It’s a different kind of harm, but it’s still harmful. In order to be healthier in mind, you have to turn off the negativity that will insult you if you allow it. I am trying to accept myself and practice what I preach. I give amazing advice, but I have a hard time following my own system.
In order to be healthier in mind, I constantly remind myself that the pain is not something I caused or asked for, and that despite knowing I will have it for the rest of my life, that does not mean I should stop living. It might mean canceling plans here and there, or waking up and knowing that today is not the day to run errands or whatever it is I had planned, and I can only hope that the people in my life who truly love me will accept that.
Yes, when you have a pain disorder of any kind, sometimes your friends and family don’t understand. Many do not want to understand, there is a difference between the two. I suffered from this pain for a very long time before receiving an official diagnosis, and to this day I still have a family member who doesn’t believe it’s real. He wants sympathy and compassion for anything and everything he is going through, no matter what, but will not give it in return. I don’t have a lot of patience for that brand of thought, or the ignorance and hypocrisy of it. So it comes down to this: Anyone that cannot accept that you have a very real problem should be shown the door. It might be painful, but trust me, in the grand scheme of things you will feel a lot better for telling them exactly where to take their ignorance and negative attitude. This pertains to a lot of things in life, but sometimes, no matter how much you may love someone, you’ve got to let them fly. Don’t accept horrible treatment from anyone simply because you think it’s what you deserve. No one deserves to be treated like garbage because they suffer from something that they themselves did not cause. No one deserves to be told they don’t want to do something, and that they’re faking pain. I know too many people who suffer from various pain disorders. When you can’t move, you are definitely not faking it. When every part of your body hurts beyond words and you’re in tears from it, you’re not faking that.
Do not let pain discourage you or allow it to put an expiration date on your dreams. Find different ways to accomplish your goals and remember that other people know what you’re going through, even if the people you should be able to rely on don’t. Believe me when I say that you cannot describe the color blue to someone who is intentionally blind. Far too many people listen without hearing, and look without really seeing. Don’t suffer fools, you already suffer enough.