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How Chronic Illness Influences My Writing | Collab with Ava Jae

Today’s video is a collaboration with
Ava Jae, author of BEYOND THE RED and host of bookishpixie here on YouTube! I
will link her below and somewhere in the corner… we’ll figure it out. Today
we’re talking about chronic illness and how it influences our writing. I have
neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic condition that causes very very painful
migraines. It’s a lifelong condition and genetic,
so I’ve had it since birth. I’ve mentioned my health a couple times on
this channel, so most of you know that I deal with pretty much daily headaches. My
biggest issue in managing my writing with my health is managing my time. If I
don’t plan to write I might get a headache before I can get my words in and then my
day is pretty much shot. I think my headaches have been a pretty big factor
in transitioning from a pantser to a plotter. When I was younger, I used to go
headfirst into a story with no plan whatsoever. I don’t do that anymore. If I get
a headache it suddenly becomes a lot harder just to figure out what words I
want on the page, let alone create scenes out of nothing. Nowadays, I’m a pretty
heavy outliner. A lot of that comes with taking my writing more seriously. I get
very anxious about the quality of my work, so having a plan helps me remember
that I’m working towards something good. And if I have a plan then if I get a
headache I could just work on what I know now and save the rest for later. I take advantage of every opportunity to
write. I made a whole video on finding time to create. I will note something
down whenever it comes to me, even if my head is killing me. I would say my
health informs my writing more on the page than it does in time management. I’m not Lily: the headache girl. I’m Lily:
the writer. My condition informs my choices in many ways, but it does not
define me. When I’m creating a character, I think of the sum of their parts. Who are they? What do they know? How do they live? What do they need to learn? If character
has limitations or is disabled, I do not consider curing them as a goal in my
story. I can’t cure my own condition. But I live with it and I live with it
well. My dreams, my goals, they aren’t negated by what I can and cannot do. I can still
do them. It might take me a little longer, I might have to work harder, but I can
still do them. No one is perfect. In fact, I’d say the best characters are far from it. It’s our jobs as writers to have empathy. I feel like my
illness helped me in that regard. I definitely know what it feels like to
want and work for something that you just can’t have, as well as I know how
rewarding it is to succeed when you work really hard for something. How do your experiences inform your
writing? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to check out Ava’s video
and if you’re new here please subscribe! I make videos on writing and books and
happiness pretty regularly, as in like every week. Thank you for checking out my
video. Thank you Ava for doing this collab video with me and I will see you
soon. Thank you. Bye.

9 thoughts on “How Chronic Illness Influences My Writing | Collab with Ava Jae

  1. Thank you for this video! Chronic illness, specifically "invisible" disability, is something we don't talk about nearly enough. I know my pain is one of the biggest challenges I face when it comes to writing, so I wish you the best, and I'm excited to watch more of your videos!

  2. Hmm very interesting 🙂 I have added 'time management' to my list of writing videos, thank for inspiring me! I'm kinda curious now, what does your writing schedule look like?

  3. Chronic illness should be more accepted. I dont know if people find it taboo or are simply uninterested in things which they can't visualise. I'm not chronically ill but I find it something perfectly normal.

  4. It's really great to hear about how somebody else with NF copes around the daily pain to write. I've always wished that there would be more representation for people who suffer from chronic pain, bu the idea of tumours or /really/ crippling pain is really taboo for writers, and it's usually cancer if it's got anything to do with tumours.

  5. I'm a migraine sufferer myself, but not to the extent you describe. Best wishes to you in dealing with your chronic illness and your writing endeavors.

  6. The weird thing is I think chronic pain is something A LOT of people have, but we don't see it. I was recently diagnosed with Endometriosis, and have been in pain every day for two years now. It's really hard to get creative work done some days. But since being diagnosed I've had so many friends come out and say, "Oh yeah, I have this illness or that. You just gotta…deal." Anyway, thanks for the video. It makes me feel a little less alone.

  7. Thanks for sharing! As I told Ava Jae, it takes balls to talk about your problems to strangers, knowing you run the risk of getting harassed for them.

    I don't have any serious illnesses or disabilities. But the minor mental problems I do have have caused certain adults in my personal life to believe that I am not entitled to my own privacy, goals or even feelings; they know not only what is best for me, but they know what I "really" want/need at any given moment. And god help you if you try to argue with them.

    This makes writing difficult on a few levels. First, my writing had to go on hold for a few years, as I focused on getting the hell out of that house, and after that, finding a home that was more than 15 minutes away from them. Now even though I live in another city, I'm horribly paranoid to talk about my writing to anyone, because I am not used to having my privacy or boundaries respected.

    Well thanks for letting me use your comments section to unload. Best of luck with your writing, and hoping to god your family and community treats you with at least some semblance of respect.

  8. I have nf as well. I have my ears done and that helped but I still have headache and I can't focus that much 🙁 i haven't been able to focus on my characters or on my writing

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