About Nell

How to get away with having the flu

Guys, having the flu sucks!

I’ve been under the weather with a fever, muscle pains, and all the usual suspects since Saturday evening. On Monday morning I sat down at my desk like a dutiful writer, but I was more zombie than human and couldn’t even spell the simplest word. It felt like my brain was filled with cotton balls, despite having taken flu medicine. My husband found me staring blankly at the computer screen and forbade me to work. He told me to concentrate on getting well, led me to the couch and hooked me up with Netflix.

So I’ve spent this week binge watching TV, and eating ice cream — because everybody knows ice cream is good for you when you’ve got the flu, right?

But I’ve also felt really guilty—guiltier than when I was a teenager and skipped class to play video games with my friends. Because the most common advice for writers is: Write every day (go ahead and google it, you’ll get millions of hits) and how do you do that when your brain doesn’t work and you feel like crap?

The answer is: I couldn’t. So far this week I haven’t written a word. There was a blog post on Monday only because I’d prepared it in advance. I’ve barely even had the energy to text my darling daughter in Sweden—that’s how crappy I’ve felt.

But to soothe my guilty conscience I tried to approach it like a writer and treat it like research. One of the main characters in my WIP currently has the flu. So as I was lying there on the couch—trying to decide whether I like or dislike How to get away with murderI was doing my best to take note of how I felt. How could I describe how my head felt with a fever? How my muscles ached when I shuffled out to the kitchen to make more tea? What words would I use to convey the bone-deep fatigue I felt, and how I didn’t even have the energy to laugh at my husband’s jokes?

It actually worked. I felt less guilty for being sick and doing nothing. But it also got me thinking: do authors ever have a vacation? Or will I end up under an umbrella on a lovely tropical beach, with my laptop in my knee, declining a sweet, fruity drink because I have to be able to think straight? Ugh—I hope not.

Anyway, I feel a lot better now. So today’s agenda consists of WRITE ALL THE WORDS. Let’s see if I can make my poor main character suffer from my newfound knowledge. Poor guy, he won’t know what hit him 🙂


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