I get a lot of headaches. I’m not sure why, but I’d like to figure it out sometime so I can make them stop. Most days I wake up with a headache, but I’m able to push through it. I go to work, and by mid-morning it’s generally faded to almost nothing. A twinge that’s easily ignored.
Today was not one of those days. I started with a headache, but it was mild enough I figured it would quickly dissipate leaving me feeling a little fatigued but able to finish the day. I was wrong.
With several providers in the doctor’s office where I work out for spring break, this week was the perfect time to start a remodel project. We’ve shared our space with construction workers and loud noises all week. Today, though, we added the smell of paint and carpet glue. Even with the precautions of sealing off the areas where work was taking place, the smells permeated my work space.
I’m sensitive to smells on a good day. I can’t wear perfume, and I can’t really be around it. My laundry detergent is scent free. And forget about scented shower gels. So, each paint drenched breath I took today sent sharp needles of pain through my already aching head. I tried acetaminophen and caffeine. I sat in the quietest room I could find over lunch. Nothing worked.
The constant, continuing exposure to a smell that didn’t affect most of my coworkers pushed my headache over the edge and prevented success in my attempts to contain it. I ended up leaving early, nauseated from the pain. Even as I write this, after a two hour nap in a dark, quiet room, I still have a headache.
What does any of this have to do with writing? It’s a reminder. We all have things that keep us from being at one hundred percent in our writing, the headaches, if you will. It could be a technical aspect to writing we struggle to overcome. Maybe it’s a fight to be consistent with our writing time. It might even be the frustrating business side of writing. You know what I’m talking about, all those marketing things we have to do that have nothing to do with writing and that often push us to our limits of understanding and competency.
Whatever form our headache takes, there are things we can do to overcome it. The medicine will be different depending on the type of headache. For technical issues, a writer may choose to attend conferences, take online classes, or read books on the subject. Some of those same things will help the writer struggling with the marketing world. Overcoming consistency issues may require an accountability partner, reminders, or a goal and reward system.
While there are helps for the headaches we face in our writing, there are also things that set us back. The paint fumes and construction noise we come against will also be personally tailored to our lives. My paint fumes may be the desire to lose myself in several episodes of a television show and waste the whole evening I could spend writing. Maybe the issue is pride. There is nothing wrong with our writing. It’s everyone else who simply does not understand our style. There is no reason to learn or grow.
We need to find out what paint fume is permeating our writing lives, because as long as we allow it to stay, our writing headache will continue to grow making our writing weaker. I struggle with understanding various programs needed in the marketing side of writing. What takes others only minutes seems to take me long hours. More often than not, I’m left with less than stellar results and a lot of frustration. After a long day at my nine to five job, it’s easy to allow the paint fume of procrastination to fill my space via Netflix. I waste the evening watching old television shows, and my marketing headache grows stronger. If I’m not careful, it’s a cycle that can continue without an end in sight.
I want to challenge you to make a list of your writing headaches. Brainstorm the actions that will work to ease the headaches and make your writing stronger. Take an honest look at the paint fumes that only add to your writing headaches. How can you remove yourself from the fumes to find relief and strengthen your writing?