Five Ways to Write a Hub with a Headache
If you're like me, you probably have a genetic predisposition towards headaches. And, even worse, these headaches often lay farther down the road towards migraines than a minor inconvenience. Sometimes, these can be debilitating, completely destroying the ability to think and "see" what comes next in terms of writing. I have headaches that come close to that level every day (and yeah, I probably need to go see a doctor about them), but I've tried to find ways to overcome and surpass this. If I didn't I'd get very bored sitting with my eyes closed.
So, what I will share with you now are a few of the things I do to try and work past my headaches.
These pills are an absolute miracle. At least I think they are. And, there's a beautiful little thing about each one of these pills. It's Tylenol, Aspirin, and a cup of coffee rolled into one.
That's all there is to it.
Acetaminophen 250mg- Tylenol
Aspirin 250mg- Any number of name brands.
Caffeine 65mg- equivalent to one cup of coffee, or a third of a twenty ounce of Mountain Dew.
That's it. All of that in pill form, and don't let the commercials and the boxes fool you. Excedrin. Excedrin Migraine. Excedrin Aches and Pains (no idea if that's an actual product they have, but it sounds like it should be one). The Equate knockoff. The Kroger knockoff. Name whatever generic version you want to name, because I can tell you one little secret. A little secret that the Excedrin company will probably kill me for.
Every product they produce, no matter what label it has on it, has the exact same active ingredients as good, old fashioned, no added words Excedrin. Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine, and all of them in the exact same dosages as those listed above.
Cute, and brilliant, little marketing gimmick isn't it.
Anyway, I kind of swear by Excedrin. It's almost like a religion to me, taking eight to twelve a day (way more than the recommended dosage), and run through a single bottle of capsules in eight to ten days.
And, yes, I do have stomach problems often.
And, yes, I do believe these stomach problems are related to NSAID abuse.
I should stop taking them...
This is another one of my favorites.
Zen, if you've lived under a rock forever, is a type of Buddhism, one that focuses on the tenets of completely clearing your mind of thought and existing in the now, enjoying the beauty of everything going on around you.
It sounds strange doesn't it?
What beauty is there in the middle of the lunch rush working in the kitchen at McDonalds?
IF you can focus, clear your mind, and let the whole of that moment fill you, the lunch rush at McDonalds is a well choreographed dance.
It's a dance so well choreographed that it seems bread into those who are living through it. There are differences in tempo and temperature. The sizzling of meat on the grill, and the sound of the sandwich wrappers crinkling. Along with other musical tones, the bell on the microwave, the song of the oven, and the Jaws theme played out on the grill. It's strangely exhilarating.
(Right now my wife is reading and thinking: "Who wrote this?")
But, I will be honest. That level of release from through is hard to attain, and most of the time I hate my very existence as I pretend to be Spongebob, and try my best not to allow the base and violent nature of a human being break free. Hurting the people I work with would not be a good way to keep my job.
So, besides that one digression, how does zen meditation (which you can do without being Buddhist and neither God nor Buddha will be mad at you) relate to breaking through a headache to get some writing done?
It's simple really.
A headache, after all, is all in your head, and (to my belief) is generated by an overwhelming number of thoughts. So, if you eliminate the thought, you eliminate the headache.
But, don't you need to think to write?
Zen art, which more artists practice in today's modern age than one can grasp, is based on instinct. It's based on doing what your body knows how to do, when your body needs to do it. And, each of us are experts in our own fields, to one extent or another, so our bodies know what we know. They only need a single drop in the pond to get the writing going.
And, I'll be honest. It takes a little work to let go like that. To let yourself do anything on autopilot. But, trust me, if you sit down with your notebook (or typewriter or word document), and you find yourself staring at a blank page, one that refuses to go away, you should try it.
Close your eyes.
Hold your breath.
Let it out, and let your thoughts go with it. Don't worry about feeding the dog or what's for breakfast. Don't worry about any of it. Let your thoughts go while you exhale.
Inhale... hold it... and purge again.
Do this until you can see the page in your mind's eye, the title written across it. See that and don't do anything else, nothing to force it, and the words will start coming. The headache might still be there, but don't worry about it. Watch the words appear, slowly at first, and they will start flowing, and your hands will start working, and you'll have an article twice the length you wanted when you sat down. You're hands will be cramping. But, you'll feel good about what you wrote because, without one single doubt, you will know what you wrote is pure and that it came through in only the way you can write it.
Least, that's the way it works for me.
And, I usually feel like only five or ten minutes have passed, when it's been like an hour and a half.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Talking To Yourself
This one, I find really entertaining, although I've only done it a couple of times, and only when I'm alone in the house. But, it's a good one.
You have a headache right?
A real pounder?
One that you just can't get rid of?
Yeah, those are the headaches that they tell you to take a cold compress with you, cover your eyes, and lay down in a dark room. My suggestion... take your iPad with you. Or your laptop. Or a tape recorder.
(if you're lazy, Dragon Speak Easy a good thing to have. It's a speech to text program.)
Generally, you're supposed to nap while you're laying down, but if you're like me you don't nap very well when the sun is up. So, take that time to write yourself an article.
Turn on your recording device, and talk while you're laying there. The sound of your voice tends to be a soothing sound, and your eyes are closed, and mind is clear. the ice pack feels good. And, all you have to do is talk.
Don't worry about what you're talking about. Just set your mind on a subject, and talk about whatever it is you associate with that subject. And, keep talking until you go to sleep or decide to get up.
(Dragon get's hard to use here, because of the need to say the punctuation out loud.)
You can decipher your conversation when your head feels better, and probably pull a nice article or two out of it. Plus, you might start to hear your significant other talking to their mom and dad about how your ramble on about Star Trek in your sleep.
Take a Walk
And, I just did.
There's something about the sun and the fresh air that makes you want to go running and screaming bloody murder until you get back inside the house.
I had to poke fun at my wife a little bit.
Anyway, there are just times when you need the sun and the fresh air to feel better. you need to walk down a quiet country lane, and just let your mind fly away from the worries of the world around you.
And, if you don't live out in the country, and you don't have quick access to a secluded forest path, then take a walk anyway.
You can walk around Walmart. You can walk on a treadmill. Pace back and forth in one of your houses hallway's. Or if you're brave (I'm not) you can take a walk at night through the bad part of town. It really doesn't matter where you walk.
It's the physical activity that matters.
Get the heart racing, and the muscles burning and you get a neat little chemical release in your brain called an endorphin rush. you experience this same sort of rush through a wide array of activities (intimacy, petting your dog/cat, illicit drugs, having someone lance the zits on your back-if you're into that sort of thing...you're weird- sometimes even intense pain can cause that kind of release), walking is just the first one (and probably the most legal) that comes to mind.
And, I have a tendency to tunnel while I'm walking, that is (to me) digging down into my brain and finding a single intense through for me to follow. I take off with that thought, and run through it over and over again while I'm walking, and besides distracting me from my headache, I generally have stories or characters or Hubs develop this way.
So, I find walking makes for an excellent writing tool.
Just Do It
To steal a phrase from Nike, sometimes the best thing to do is just do it.
Sometimes there's no way of getting around the headache, no matter what you do. And, if you let it (I have plenty of times) you won't get anything done. progress will grind to an absolute standstill, and you'll feel like crap later for not having done anything.
So, grin and bear it. Work through the headache, and that determination might just be what you need to break it's hold on you.
Is it going to take longer to get the same amount of work done?
Yes, that's a possibility, and a likely side effect of working under the weather.
Is it going to be the same quality and caliber you usually produce?
Believe it or not, it will be. You write with the same voice and the same hand you always write with, whether you've got a cold or a headache or bronchitis. it doesn't matter. It's always you writing it, and no matter the time or effort put into it, the average will still be the same quality as the last.
And, just like the last page, and the page before that, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. You also have the option of balling it up, and playing trashcan basketball.
Besides, everything I just said, whether it takes you ten hours to write one page and you hate it, you still know one thing.
You made progress.
You got something done.
How do you manage working with a headache?
And, in conclusion, I will say goodnight to you. This headache has gotten the better of me. And, now that I've accomplished something. I'm going to bed.