Friday, March 14, 2014

Sick Day

Sometimes you have to cancel your writing because you are ill. Your head is simply not working properly, so the plan you made the day before can't be realized. I feel that way this morning, as I expected, more or less, last night. So I'm just going to take a few minutes to explain the "rules" for canceling your writing due to illness.

First, ask yourself whether you would cancel other things, like your teaching, or a meeting with a colleague, feeling the way you do. Truth be told, I think I would cancel on a colleague the way I feel today, but perhaps not my teaching, which I would just try to drag myself through. I know this because this is actually a day off I'm supposed to be spending with my daughter at her skating competition. And I will keep that commitment, despite canceling on my writing.

The important thing is to make sure that the author you are understands your decision. This post is not really an act of writing, so much as a conversation with my author about whether it's fair that we don't write what I intended last night, albeit vaguely (already sniffling), to write this morning.

Your physical and mental health, and the physical and mental health of those you love, are always legitimate reasons to cancel your writing. But you must make sure you don't invoke those reasons disproportionately against your writing when compared to your other responsibilities. If your writer always feels like he or she has to accept that you're too ill to write, while other tasks get done in the same state (and sometimes even on the very same day), you'll harm the important relationship that must exist between you as a writer and you as a scholar, a teacher, a parent, a lover. You'll lose trust in yourself, which is an important part of your style.

Anyway, that's it. No real writing today. The decision has now been made. And with that I'm going to drag my sorry ass through this long day and hope to spend Saturday in bed.


Andrew Gelman said...

If, hypothetically, one had been kept up all night by a kid who kept throwing up, and then if one had to get up early to teach a class that one had already agreed to do, then one might hypothetically be too tired to do any real work but could still have the energy to write blog comments.

Thomas said...

True. But my rule is that if you're going to keep your agreement with a colleague to teach a class then you should also keep your agreement with yourself to write. The sleepless night (or mild cold or whatever) will explain your less-than-perfect performance in the classroom if necessary, and you should accept a less than perfect writing performance in the same way.

The author you are should not feel that it was easier to cancel on him/her than it is to cancel on your students. (But your author does not expect more love than you show your children, of course. Nor do your students.)