Creativity and ME – from hobby to job

Due to being too unwell to fulfil my work commitments as a GP, I haven’t worked since the beginning of this month. I saw a nice Occupational Health doctor who agreed with me that I wasn’t well enough for general practice.

“So you’re self-employed?….What does your husband do?”

“I haven’t got a husband.”

“Ah…” A pause. “So you need some kind of income then. Have you thought of anything else you could do?”

“I’ve thought about…writing.”

A career in freelance writing, for someone with ME/CFS, and no experience of writing professionally? Am I nuts? Maybe. But these writers must have started somewhere. I just need to be organised, draw up a structured routine to my day with planned rest breaks and be very disciplined.

Simple as that, eh? The problem is, since I decided to give this writing thing a shot, my head won’t switch off. My neural circuits are buzzing with tenuous ideas for articles, magazines I might be able to pitch these ideas to, freelance job alerts I can sign up to. These flickers of positivity are interspersed with doubt-bombs of “My articles will be terrible”, “I have no clue what I’m doing”, “Editors will laugh at my pitches and block my email address” and “I will run out of money having got not a single word published and my house will be repossessed”.

For someone who is a tiny bit obsessive like me, pacing your thoughts is difficult. I often fall into the creative trap of thinking myself into inertia. Result: zero productivity, mental exhaustion and a flare of ME/CFS symptoms a couple of days later. I had to write this blog post to break the trance of sitting on the edge of my bed rocking and staring at the wall. My lovely friend, Leila, has given me some excellent advice on getting started in freelance writing. Now I just need to calm down and act on it.

I’m sure the mindfulness meditation will help settle my busy thoughts. I’ve made the mistake of not doing it for the last couple of days, as I thought I was in too much of a bad mood to be mindful. I think that attitude is missing the point a little. We live and learn.

So I need to take my foot off the pedal, stop compulsively Googling things like “How to be a good freelance writer and earn enough money to pay the mortgage” and start to pace my creativity. Then I should start to see results.

Either than, or I’ll have to find myself a rich husband.


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