I would say back pain and headaches are the biggest problem for me.
I work on a laptop (I have no room for a proper desk set up) so I’m often hunched over it, or sat at the dining room table. Dining room chairs aren’t exactly built for perfect lumbar support!
I know that wrist pain can be a problem for a lot of writers, and it’s been a problem for me in the past because I’m hypermobile.
Why Writers Need to “Have a Wander”
My biggest advice to any writers suffering from back pain is to get up and move around. Don’t just sit at the computer all day.
I’ve started working in 20-minute bursts on projects, whether that’s web design or writing, then I get up and have a wander around the house in between. I do the same if I’m writing on my lunch break at work. Get up and move.
I’ve also started doing yoga using the YogaStudio app by Gaiam on my phone. That’s definitely helping with the physical strain and it puts me into a much better mental space too.
When Your Story Is Ignored
Wow, where do you start [on the emotional challenges of writing]? The isolation doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but I think the biggest emotional challenge for me has been a combination of the fear of failure, and rejection that I struggle with.
I’m used to getting rejections for short stories, and I know it’s nothing personal if an editor knocks a story back. There’s any number of reasons why it wasn’t a good fit for their title.
But say you’ve got a short story in an anthology. It’s really hard reading the reviews and seeing all of the other stories singled out for praise. And yours is either ignored altogether, or worse, it’s singled out for criticism. That’s difficult to deal with.
And I don’t suffer from writer’s block as much as perfectionism. Sometimes I struggle to even start something because I know it won’t be as good on paper as it is in my head. Still, you can’t edit a blank page, so I often get round it by just typing gobbledygook so I’ve got something written. Then I can start writing normally after that.
Writers: Never Underestimate the Power of Talking to People Who Understand
I’ll say one thing first. I am not a fluffy self-help kind of person. Affirmations just make me feel silly.
That said, I’ve started doing mindful meditation and I find it just helps with life in general. I used to be irritable and grumpy, but it’s a lot easier to react now, just by taking a deep breath before I respond to something.
And never underestimate the power of talking to people who understand. I’ll often have a bitch or moan with writer friends who know what bad reviews feel like. Twitter is great for finding other authors to talk to, and simply by talking about the difficult parts of writing you soon realize how everyone suffers from the same problems.
You’re not a special snowflake!
To Bring Things Under Control, Look for the Practical Solution
I haven’t necessarily had either [a darkest moment or greatest discouragement] (thankfully), but I did have a difficult moment when things all fell apart with the first independent press I worked with. I don’t really want to go into the specifics because I still like the editor involved and the book is now with an awesome small press, but it really put me off working with small presses for a while.
But I did what I always do. I looked at the practical side of things, got advice from a lawyer, and sorted things out.
That’s always how I deal with things that seem painful or difficult. I look for the logical or practical solution and work on that. It’s a good way to bring things under my control, if I can.
Why Write if You Don’t Enjoy It?
[What’s the one thing that keeps you true to your path?]
Honestly? Genuine enjoyment of telling stories. That’s why I’ve never picked profitable genres. I’ve just written the stories that occurred to me.
Seriously, what writer based in Northeast England writes a Western unless they genuinely enjoy the story they’re telling? If I stop enjoying it, I’ll stop doing it.
Advice for a Young Writer: Connect with Other Writers and Artists
I’m not sure [about giving advice], because I think all writers and artists have their own difficulties. I struggle with things that others find easy, and vice versa.
So I think I would encourage them to build up a series of connections with other writers or artists. You need to have people around you who understand what it is that you’re trying to do because as much as your friends and family care, unless they’re writers, they won’t get it.
You need people to bounce ideas off, to discuss problems, and to give support to as much as you receive it. You’ll learn so much from the people you have around you—so choose well.
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Icy Sedgwick lives, works and writes in the north east of England. She’s a big fan of Cumberbatch, coffee, cameras, and cake. She’s had both Westerns and dark fantasy novellas published. But she particularly enjoys writing Gothic horror short stories, in the mould of MR James.
For more about Icy and her work, please see her website, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for a free collection of dark fantasy short stories at http://www.icysedgwick.com/harbingers.
Harbingers: These 15 tales of the weird and wonderful are collected together for the first time, spanning fantasy, horror, sci fi and speculative fiction. Harbingers is a veritable Cabinet of Curiosities for fans of weird tales! If you enjoy the writing of Neil Gaiman or Ray Bradbury, then you might just see the wonder by strolling through these dark shadows.
In the title story, ‘Harbingers’, portentous visitors try to warn a young woman who fails to grasp their importance; a washed-up actress seeks to prolong her pact with a Greek goddess in a hotel bathroom; a porcelain woman awaits the return of her maker on a lonely rooftop; and a Resurrection man rethinks his career choices in Victorian London.
Harbingers also includes the pulp adventure tale, One Woman Cure, and a Grey O’Donnell ghost story, A Christmas Ghost Story in the West. Available at Amazon.
To Kill a Dead Man: Grey O’Donnell is back to normality after the events in Retribution six months before.
He and partner Billy Cole are hunting down a fugitive with a large price on his head, and what should have been a routine job takes a turn for the weird when they follow the trail to an abandoned mining encampment.
Something unnatural lurks in the trees near Bentley, and when the living dead pay a visit to the town, Grey enlists the help of a Ute medicine man to fight them off. Trouble is, the love of Grey’s life has gone missing, and he’s not about to lose Peggy a second time.
Available at Amazon.