Why Working Artists Should Think About Getting Sick This Season

I have always hated the sniffle and sneeze season. Without remorse, I am that person on the train watching for the sneezers and coughers so I can avoid them at all costs. After all, with a full-time job, bills to pay, household chores to complete, social circles and relationships to maintain, and an artistic craft to invest in, who has time to get sick?

As much as we do try to avoid the season’s new plague we are not infallible. This season, I got sick. The whole nine yards too; fever, chills, coughing, an overflow of mucus, aches, sore throat, sneezing, you name it. Tissues were my best friend. I was so good at getting sick that I had to take 3 days off from work. I did not realize it at the time, but this was a great thing. It gave me the staycation I did not realize I needed. It gave me the time that I wish I had every night and whined about every day.

I work as a concierge in a luxury boutique New York City Hotel. It’s a great job for an aspiring writer. I get to meet and interact with people from different countries and backgrounds. There is an abundance of various characters and I have an excuse to people watch without being awkward. But like every job, it takes a lot out of a person.

It’s not easy for my body to turn around and then say, “Yes, I have the time and energy to write right now!” After I eat, do laundry, and all the other necessities of life, I want to unwind. This usually results in me watching Netflix or reading until I fall asleep. When I wake, it’s time to repeat the day with too many necessary tasks and not enough hours.

However, being stuck in bed for three days gave me the excuse I needed to focus on my craft. This is not the same as just taking the sick time (or the vacation time) and having an actual staycation to work on your craft. I like to be busy, learn new things, and explore. This is what I probably would have done if I had just taken the time off to work on my writing.

Being sick makes you sleep long hours. When you wake up (still feeling miserable and cranky because you’re sick) you don’t want to go back to sleep because you have been sleeping all day. That was my moment. I was too achy to move, and too sick to go out and explore the city. I was not working all day. Now I have this store of energy, even if it was just for a few hours, to be awake, in one spot, with my laptop.

I did not watch one episode or movie on Netflix for the duration of my sickness. Because as good as I am at procrastinating or relaxing, I love to be productive. Without going to work for the day or the day before, I was seething with this energy to get work done. And I did. In these three days of being sick, I got more writing and story building done than I had in the previous month.

I would wake up in the late afternoon, drink endless tea and ginger ale, and begin to write. All the while I was coughing and sneezing, yes, but I was working. It made being sick fun and I felt so good about taking the time off. Yes, I was physically getting better and not contaminating my workplace, but I was also emotionally getting better. Writing for those three days dissolved a lot of the stress and negativity I was feeling about not writing as much as I should.

Now that I am feeling better, I am maintaining that momentum that I developed while I was sick. Instead of watching Netflix I continue to work on my work in progress in my free time.

Could this have been achieved without actually getting sick? Perhaps. In my case, it was just what I needed. As a busy non-stop New Yorker, I needed something to get me off of my feet and my schedule so I could reset my weekly pattern of productivity and distribution of energy.

If you are one of the not-starving-because-who-actually-wants-to-be-a-starving-starving-artist, who works so hard and lives so fast that there does not seem to be time or energy to work on your artistic form, you might want to think twice before you swear you will not be one of this season’s common cold victims. It worked wonders for me. When I recovered I recovered as an artist as well.

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