Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writing When It's Physically Hard

We never know what to expect in life. We can roll along without a care one day and find ourselves shattered the next. Even during times of physical hardship, writers can have obligations to fulfill. Lillian Duncan is a writer who has faced physical difficulty and written through it. I asked her:

"You've suffered with recent illness. How did you find the desire to sit at the computer and complete your books? What worked for you and how would you advise someone who might be going through the same thing?" - Sandy

Lillian: Life is about habits. After more than fifteen years of writing almost every day, it’s a habit! And just the way you don’t quite feel right when you don’t brush your teeth, that’s the way I feel when I don’t write.

It was quite the shock for my husband and me when I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors considering I had no symptoms. We went to our camper with our dogs and I slept when I felt like it, took walks with the dogs,  and ate marshmallows every night!

Out of habit, I took my laptop with me.

At the time, I was working on Betrayed, which will come out some time this year. While my husband was out fishing, I would write.  Most of the story was finished and it only needed editing and polishing

As I said, writing is a habit for me. It’s something I do because I love it. It’s fun for me. It gives me pleasure.

And I really needed some pleasure at the time—the marshmallows helped but the writing helped even more.

My best advice when you find yourself struggling with a serious illness, is to go to God for advice. If you feel a sense of peace about continuing to write, do so. If writing gives you anxiety, then take a break. 

Each person and their circumstances are different. What worked for me won’t necessarily work for everyone.

If writing makes you feel better, then write. If writing feels like an intrusion, then don’t write.

I felt good physically until early December when my complications set in. Some people (like my sister) thought I was pushing myself and she was absolutely right.

But it had taken me more than seventeen years to get my career to this point, and there was no way I was going to let my brain tumors win. So, I kept writing as much as I could.

Some days it would only be an hour, other days not at all.

God blessed me by giving me complete retirement this year (of course, I didn’t think it was a blessing at the time), but it shows that God always knows what He’s doing.


Lillian Duncan writes suspense novels with a hint of romance. She believes books can be entertaining and uplifting at the same time. Along with novels, she writes devotions 
She lives in the middle of Amish country in Ohio with her husband and menagerie of pets, including four parrots, a Jack Russell Terrier and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she's thinking about renaming Clifford--since he continues to grow and grow and grow... 
She's been a speech-language pathologist for over thirty years. Most of those years were in the Cleveland Municipal School district where she worked primarily with deaf and hard-of-hearing students. 
As a  writer, speech pathologist, and an educator, she believes in the power of words to change lives, especially God's Word.