You Can Be Creative AND Chronically Ill

No posts for the past two days? Geesh, Tiffany, what’s up with that?

Tremors, that’s what. I personally rank not being able to write or hold a pen, or not having the strength to type chief among my gripes about living with Chiari.

But, a chronic illness diagnosis doesn’t mean you are now doomed to a gray, blah life. I promise. Sometimes, it just means you have to find a different way to do the things you love. And, if you’re sitting on your side of this screen thinking “Oh, yea, well, you say that, but…” No buts. If a 13th century Monk with essential tremor could make a living doing gilded calligraphy work that still survives then you can live creatively, too.

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Writing sample from the Tremulous Hand of Worcester

Here are my tips for living creatively with chronic illness:

  1. Like Phil Hansen suggests, “embrace the shake.” Seriously. Watch it. It’s phenomenal.
  2. Artists with essential tremors have found tons of shortcuts and created handmade tools to aid them in their painting. Think of your favorite creative endeavor. Do you need to have something for your hand to rest on? Weak hands are twice as powerful if you’re using power tools. Just sayin’.
  3. DON’T SEARCH FOR PERFECTION. It’s not going to happen. So find your perfect.
  4. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO THE INTERNET. The web is just full of people who have more time and no illness to work with. Feel sorry for them. *I suck at this, by the way.
  5. Use your illness as a means for activism.
  6. Start small. Or big. People with tremors struggle with tiny spaces, while some might find the small canvas the perfect size.
  7. Whatever you work on, make it about the process, not the product. Listen to your favorite music while you paint/write/what have you, or watch your favorite tv show. Make the process enjoyable for yourself. You could also listen to an audiobook…as a librarian, I’m required to say that not really.
  8. Mistakes are still creations. Find a way to use your mistakes, like for photo backgrounds.
  9. Have your materials on hand and easy to reach. I have everything right on my sewing table; all my paintbrushes, markers, nibs, all of it right there. If I have to go search for a paintbrush during a flare, it’s not happening.
  10. Don’t limit yourself. I am my own worst enemy; oftentimes, I limit myself by thinking “oh, that will turn out awful.” But, how do you know? Don’t think about what you can’t do, but what you can do.

What’s your best advice for creative spoonies? Share it in the comments!

Happy Thursday! It is Thursday, right? I think this week had three Mondays in it, so, just thought I’d check…

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