Rough Drafts of the Chronically Ill: How to Handle Your Puke Draft When You Just Feel Like Puking

Rough Drafts of the Chronically Ill

When I wrote the rough draft for Emerald’s Fracture, I thought my body was in pretty rough shape. It turns out the universe had neat things in store for me. Soon after I finished the rough draft in January 2017, some switch flipped in my head and my migraines went nuts. Luckily I already had an appointment with one of the best neurologists in the area – SEVEN MONTHS LATER.

Between finishing the rough draft and that appointment, everything went to hell. I ended up on short-term disability for two months. I came off short-term disability but, well, my body still isn’t consistently able. The neurologist I saw is completely awesome, but the steps we had to take to get my head to settle down were pretty severe. The meds I’m on have a lot of side effects to say nothing of the migraines that still come, just not every day like they used to. So I’m sort of abled and sort of disabled. It depends on the day.

When it came time to draft Sunstone’s Secret, I had a totally different body. Here’s what I’ve learned being a variably abled spoonie writing a rough draft:

  • Just get the words out. Puke on the keyboard. It’s called a puke draft for a reason. I, personally, don’t measure my words per hour. If I wrote something, then I win at writing.
  • Self-care always comes first. If you need to write laying down, do that. Recliners, laying on the floor, with a dog or cat, listen to your body. Take breaks when you need to, hydrate and feed yourself, and rest when necessary.
  • I, myself, don’t pay attention to the writers who can crank out 12 billion words per day or whatever. Good for them. They are probably super-able, have people to watch their kids and don’t have a day job. Us spoonies should take pride in our 500 words if we wrote that. Myself, I see it like leveling in World of Warcraft. Chapter 1 is level one. If I do a bit each day then I level up to level 2 (Chapter 2). Working a bit each day means I keep leveling up until I reach the end of the game. Even though I don’t level as fast as others, I still reach the end of the game. I still win.
  • So parts of my draft suck. Yup. Here’s a quote from the Sunstone’s Secret rough draft from a day I was feelin’ pretty rough:

Natalie followed the princess, whose silver-blond pony tail bobbed jauntily and caught the sunlight as she jogged. The first lap was alright. By the second lap, Natalie struggled to put one foot in front of the other. Her new boots, which seemed so soft when she put them on, rubbed in all the wrong places. How could she not have realized the training yard was really this huge? On the third lap, she hoped Em remembered how to treat heat exhaustion. By the fourth and final lap, boots scuffing the dirt and and stumbling along, it didn’t matter what Em remembered, she’d be dead anyway.

It’s not terrible, but yowie, it needs some work. But that’s okay. It’s okay to write (if you have the spoons) when you’re sick because that’s what editing is for. Editing is where you take all the stuff you wrote when you felt like crap and you mine it for gold. I feel like people always regard editing as a Totally Big Deal, when, for me, it’s like sculpting the beautiful sculpture out of the rough rock. Yes, it can be hard, but you also get to look at a Beautiful Thing you made at the end. Just keep sculpting.

That paragraph I wrote is not the best, but it has potential if I fix the typos, rearrange the sentence structures, bring in a thesaurus, and dig into to a deeper POV. It’s okay to just write and leave stuff for editing later. You’ll get there, spoonie body and all.

We’re spoonies. It’s okay to just get the draft out bit by bit. And it’s okay to delegate. Alpha readers and critique partners who truly understand what you’ve got going on can be invaluable and help you polish your draft. And don’t forget tools like Grammarly which can help you catch silly and brain fog mistakes (although it can be kinda stupid sometimes, so don’t accept all changes blindly).

Keep writing, Team Spoonie. Take your crazy body and go make some new worlds.

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