1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Writing when you're hurting

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Justin Rocket 2, Sep 12, 2015.

    I've set my goal that my first draft of my young adult adventure novel, "The Long Winter" will be completed by December 31. So, I know I should be writing right now. My muse is hiding under a rock. I'm laying here in bed, my back and leg are hurting badly and the pain seems to have absorbed all my spare brain power. Now, I know that I'm not the only writer to suffer from chronic pain. For those of you who have been there, what do you do to get past it?
    For those of you who haven't been there, please don't post some bromide. That really is the last thing I need right now.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Ibuprofen.

    I have a weird autoimmune arthritis. Fortunately, it's mild and under control. But I can relate. My back pain gets in the way of things I want to do sometimes.
     
  3. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Suck it up. Physical pain needn't have a detrimental bearing on creative work.
     
  4. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Sadly, Ibuprofen doesn't come close. I take hydrocodone regularly and still hurt.
     
  5. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's that kind of pain...

    You're already using a very strong opioid. Not much to do.
     
  6. Jeff Countryman
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    Jeff Countryman Living the dream Supporter

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    Sometimes I do what you're doing now but let my mind wander to whatever crazy storyline it wants to (purposely trying to avoid what I'm writing). They end up being mostly rescue fantasies where Tom Selleck (yeah, I know - he's not 'in' anymore lol) is in dire danger and I'm the hero that scoops in at the last moment to save him and then we spend the rest of our lives happily ever after saving the world form all kinds of bizarre villains and tragedies. :) In other words, let your fantasies take you away so the pain fades into the background of your mind instead of being forefront.

    Other times, when the pain isn't that bad but simply annoying - I've found that pouring myself into my writing (the one I'm working hard at) actually takes my mind off the pain for awhile.

    I actually started my "hobby" of writing five years ago (more seriously and intense than before) because of the pain and the absolute overwhelming frustration of my sudden disability - as a way to overcome it. Now I'm addicted to writing instead of meds (well, mostly lol) and feel a whole lot better mentally and emotionally (back to my old goofy/nutty self).

    Laughing helps too! I used to tell jokes to God in prayer (he must have liked them since I haven't been struck down by lightening ..... yet). I remember though, through the worst of it, I couldn't read anything with humor as it just upset me. I guess that's why I just told silly jokes to God - even a little chuckle made me feel a bit better.

    I feel what you're saying, Justin. Maybe adjust your goal date to give yourself some more time (and less guilt). Hope you're feeling better.
     
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  7. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    If you're taking hydrocodone, I assume you're already seeing a doctor? Do you take any other drugs? Have you seen a pain specialist before? Some run pain clinics specifically aimed at chronic sufferers - a relative of mine attends one. Specialist medical help is my recommendation if you're not already getting it. That said...

    Have you explored mindfulness? It sounds like probable new-age bullshit, but is starting to integrate into chronic pain management, especially where drugs are inadequate.

    Neuroplasticity research perhaps shows some merit. Not to diminish the experience in the slightest, but pain technically is all in the mind - before your cerebral cortex interprets it as such, it's just like any other nervous pathway. I suppose the evolutionary advantage is to alert you to bodily damage, but in chronic pain where the damage isn't ongoing or you're already doing all you can to diminish it, it's like a smoke alarm you can't turn off.

    My understanding is that mindfulness aims to objectively look at thought processes and see them for what they are, free of the natural emotional responses they generate. With consistent practice, the brain can remodel over time to perhaps reduce your perception of pain even when you're not actively mindful (neuroplasticity).

    There's no 100% response though (true for any treatment option: if there were, the other options wouldn't still exist). View mindfulness as something complementary to try (if you haven't already), and as an investment that may or may not pay off. If you're interested, I know of one or two free platforms to pursue it from.

    Having said all this, I've personally had no luck with it (my bugbear is chronic sleeplessness rather than pain though). I mentioned mindfulness specifically because it has scope beyond pain management - if someone got into it, they could probably tailor it to sharpen various other thought processes related to writing. If you're interested in other complementary/alternative pain therapies, I can mention some that may or may not suit.

    Beyond all this, I think @outsider is right - my insomnia situation is at the 'suck it up' stage. With any chronic problem, once you realise you can't beat it, the next question is whether it's going to beat you.
     
  8. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    I can empathize with your pain. I have a bone disorder that causes me to break my bones easily as it's primary symptom, but also includes but not limited to: back pain, leg pain, and joint pain.

    I've had over 40 broken bones before I was two years old. If I go into an orthopedic hospital, even for just a check-up, the head doctor rounds up all the med students to meet me and study my x-rays, my charts, and just generally pokes at my body in curiousity. I'm THAT patient, hahah.

    The thing is, I hate pain medicine. It takes the edge off of the pain, yes, but it also takes the edge off of reality. I feel like I'm constantly in some foggy dream state, and I hate that more than I hate the pain, so I go with the Grin and bear it type of deal.

    (Which, I must be honest. At this point all of my aches, pains, creaks, and all that are like background noise to me so it's not that bad. A white noise to the regular operations of my body. When I go to sleep and I start to relax is when everything comes to the front of my mind and I really hurt.)

    But I promise, I've been to the bad places, aha.

    I recommend taking your pain medicine as necessary, but also take vitamins and all the healthy things you can. Try to have a really fresh diet, and stick to it. Having a healthy/fresh diet helps your metabolism act like it's supposed to, it feeds the nutrition your body needs to deal with the pain, and you'll just generally feel better.

    Try aromatherapy. Bath and Body works has some amazing eucalyptus oils/lotions/body wash. You can even get some pillows that are for that. Try hot and cold treatments on the parts of your body that are aching.

    Maybe keep a pain diary? If you have trouble focusing on your writing, dedicate a page/500 words/30 minutes to writing about your pain. Then, close that file, and open up the project you really want to work on. This could get this out of the way, and even might be helpful the next time you go to the doctor.

    Try music. Soothing music, or music that distracts the mind. The genre really depends on you. Sometimes I like hard techno and metal to keep me distracted and relaxed. Sounds completely backwards, but it works!

    And, as always, the age old saying: Laughter is the best medicine.

    Do you watch YouTube? Find some comedians/vloggers whose personalities you enjoy, and try to watch a certain number of videos. Laugh, relax, and enjoy yourself.

    One of the most important things though? Try to remain positive. When I had surgery last August and was unable to get out of bed, I felt depressed, pathetic, helpless, a burden to everyone else, and tied down in my shitty body. I spent a lot of time crying. The thing is though, the pain didn't seem so bad when I was distracted by things I enjoyed (see list above).
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
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  9. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only one that does that. <g> I think God enjoys our sense of humor, even if at times no one else does.

    Then again, I laugh more at my own personal jokes (by myself) than I do other peoples.
     
  10. DancingCorpse
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    DancingCorpse Member

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    BEWARE THE WHEELERS
    I have thankfully rarely felt the misery of physical pain so far in my existence, I will not attempt to patronize you with any advice or insight from this side I am lucky enough to stand on right now but I hope you find comfort and your pain lessens and you are able to find enough relief to express yourself.
     
  11. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I take Hydrocodone, Zanaflex, Lyrica, Elavil, and Celexa. I also have a TENS unit.

    Yeah, I'm seeing a pain specialist.

    I understand the "suck it up" philosophy. I've done that for various physical activities (ever since I first had my spinal injury in December 2009) that needed to be done (I take care of my 75-year-old blind and deaf mom). But, mental work is different. How do I get into the flow of writing when every phrase is an act of deliberate hard labor? I'm not just bitching, I'm asking, "how do I do it?" I'm afraid that, if I can't get absorbed into writing it, no one is going to get absorbed into reading it. What tricks/techniques work? I know I'm not the first wannabe author with this challenge.
     
  12. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    When I saw the title of this thread I thought it was going to be about writing while under emotional duress. Now that does churn out some good stuff!
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure whether I understand this question or not. Is every act of writing hard labor? For example, was it hard labor to write your post, the one I'm responding to?

    If not, then I would suggest figuring out why. There are some obvious differences between the two activities, but only you perceive exactly what those differences are.

    If writing the post was just as hard, then I'd have to do some more thinking.
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I have to say you have my sympathy, @Justin Rocket . I know I don't feel creative when something is bothering me. I don't write well when I'm distracted by anything. I've never been in chronic, long-lasting pain (yet) but I can imagine it would sap your ability to create. It was interesting to read the feedback from other people on the forum here who suffer chronic pain and still manage to write, particularly @Jeff Countryman and @Nicoel. I'm really impressed by what you can do, and how you handle what has happened to you. I don't know if I would be that resourceful.
     
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  15. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Writing a post requires no mental effort.
     
  16. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    This seems to manifest itself throughout the forum.
     

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