Diary of an Author With Multiple Sclerosis – March 2019

Diary of an Author with Multiple Sclerosis

March is over, and time for a recap on what has happened in the last four weeks, both with my writing, but also with my health. If you’re here for the writing updates and info on what I’ve learned, that bit comes first, as it should. I can’t lie, MS is a huge part of my life, and has been for twenty years, but writing has become an increasing part of my life as well over the last handful of years and I choose to focus on that part of my life first.

I’ve often considered not continuing to update these diary posts, asking myself ‘who is going to be interested in my life?’ Well, I don’t know, but this blog, whilst predominantly about writing, is also about some of the other things that play a part in my life, from music and drawing, to reading and health. As such, I find it helpful to look back over time to see how / if I have made progress in any way. I have spoken with lots of people over the last few years about writing, but also about health-related issues, so I guess there are at least one or two of you out there!

Anyway, I digress. On to this month’s writing update. And boy has it been a busy month (well at least it has for me!).

Writing

This month I reached a point in the first draft of my first novel, that I was happy to call an end. There is an awful lot of work to do before I am willing to let anyone read it, but for me, this marked a huge achievement: I had written 70k words that made (some) sense.

To some of you more seasoned authors, this may not seem like much, but for me, this is a huge deal; everything I had written before had been short stories, even if some of them were 15k – 20k words. I didn’t know if I had it in me, and to be honest, I’m still not certain I’ll ever be able to repeat the task, but I guess that’s the self-doubt talking.

I won’t go into too much detail here, I would direct you to a couple of posts I made on the subject HERE and HERE. The manuscript has sat untouched for a couple of weeks while I focus on something else, but I’m just about ready to launch in on rewriting…

Learning Point

I learned that I can do it. I have struggled with health, often making it difficult to get started, but by setting manageable goals, I was able to do so much more than ever before.

Try it. Some days I was feeling under the weather, or my mind was blank, or I just didn’t want to do it, but I set myself a target. It was an easy target. A SMART target. The target was so easy, it was almost more effort not to do it.

I set myself a goal of writing 350 words per day.

How did that help? Well, I struggled for a long time, with beating myself up if I didn’t write every day, if I didn’t hit my 1000 words per day quota. That made me feel bad about myself and worse, it made me feel like there was no point even sitting down at my Mac and beginning to write, which made me feel worse, etc etc. It became a downward spiral very quickly; a vicious circle.

But 350 words? I could manage that. I can write 200 words at work while I am on hold to the Department of Work and Pensions. Hell, I could probably write 1000 words whilst on hold to the DWP. I can dictate 150 words while I’m waiting in my car for someone to open up my office. That’s my 350 done. Mostly though, I sit down when I get in from work and type. Hitting 350 is reasonably easy, and most days I find that once I start, I breeze past my 350 word goal, but on days when I just reach 350, that’s okay, because that’s all I was aiming for. A success. Yay me.

My progress so far…

What Else?

Well quite a lot, actually. By setting and achieving my daily writing goals, I feel as if I have been freed to work on so many other things:

  • Creating a comic version of one of my short stories. This has involved me learning to draw for comics. Oh, did I mention I’m going to do it all myself? Now as well as writing everyday, I’m drawing every day. It makes for a busy day, but do you know what? I’m loving it! Check out my ‘Road to a Comic‘ series for more details on my progress. Please feel free to cheer me on, or laugh at my efforts. Either is fine.
  • Rewriting a Short Story. I had written a short story at the end of last year which I thought was okay, just not great. I wanted to rewrite it in another style, so I am in the process of changing it from 3rd-person, past tense, to first-person, present tense. I love this style, but it’s tricky!
  • Blogging more. I’d mostly been an ‘every-now-and-then’ blogger; a kind of ‘when I remember’ type. But this month, imbued with my new motivation, I have paid much more attention to this blog and have (for me) had some success. I wrote a series of posts about marketing for authors on Instagram. I wrote a post about First-person, present tense. I have just written a post about Choose Your Own Adventure stories.
  • I am writing a Choose Your Own Adventure story. I am surprised at how much fun this is. Yes it’s more work, but hey, it doesn’t feel like a chore.

Learning Point

This one has surprised me. I thought that by taking on all these extra projects (above and beyond what I’d normally do), I would be spreading myself a bit thin and something would suffer as a result. In reality, the results have been exactly the opposite. I have found that I have become a lot more focussed and as a result have achieved so much more

My advice to new authors would be to give it a go. Try using another medium for your story. If you can’t afford a professional artist or voice actor, do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be the best thing since sliced bread. It just has to be fun.

Disability Multiple Sclerosis

This month has been surprisingly quiet. The MS has been reasonably stable. The one thing I have started to notice more, is my inability to use my left hand. It has been coming on for a long time, but I’ve really noticed it this month, mainly I think as a result of all the extra writing I’ve been doing. If I tuck the thumb and three of the fingers away, I am able to have my index finger out to prod the keys every now and again, which is okay, but that only lasts so long. Mostly the fingers droop to the keyboard and press things that I didn’t mean to.

I have been keeping up taking the hemp oil every day. I’m still not convinced it is doing anything, but I am going to keep going until I finish my six-month supply and then I will re-evaluate. If anyone has any experience with this, please let me know.

Talking about medication, at the beginning of the month, I had huge difficulties getting my meds. It was so frustrating that I wrote THIS POST. At time of writing, I am expecting a delivery of some of my meds tomorrow. We’ll see.

Finally, my sleeping is getting worse. When I was taking Amatriptalyne, I could fall asleep at night super-fast. But I stopped taking it, because I didn’t like all the negatives that came with it. Now I find myself becoming really sleepy about 6-7pm, so much so that I often fall asleep for an hour without even realising it. Now I’ve been finding that if I can get past that point of the evening, I am awake till the early hours of the morning, and I’m going to bed at 12.30am – 1am, often not because I’m tired, but because it’s what you’re supposed to do at that time. It’s not too bad, however, because I have been using the time to write, draw, or watch my way through Game of Thrones (I’ve never seen it, so I’m still on season one).

Finally, I’ve still not got my downstairs bedroom, although the contractor has just popped in, and gave me a start date for the last of the work. I’m so looking forward to that!

My question to you: Have you ever considered turning a short story into another format? How did it go?

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