Can You Write When You Are Sick?

Can you write when you are sick? I’m still fighting off my cold. It’s getting better, but breathing well, sleeping well, and having enough energy and attention to do my best work are still challenging. So, have I been just laying around feeling sorry for myself? Well — if I’m honest with you, mostly. But I’ve also gotten some work done despite being sick. You can if you follow some of these suggestions.

Be a Good Boss to Yourself

The first thing you have to do is to be a good boss. If you were employed outside of your home, a good boss would notice you are ill and tell you to take the day off.

I realize that for many freelancers taking a day off is frightening. If you don’t work you don’t get paid, if you don’t finish projects on time you don’t get rehired, etc. First of all, you should always build a little cushion into every project for those unexpected events, like getting sick. Second of all, if you push yourself too hard, you could end up with a more serious illness, more deadlines not met, and more disappointed customers.

Take Care of Yourself.Can you write when you are sick

Drink plenty of fluids.


Eat properly. Your body needs balanced meals: protein, fruits, and vegetables, to have the energy to help you heal. If you don’t feel like eating a big meal, eat smaller amounts of those foods or break them up into mini-meals.

Rest when you are tired.

Protect your eyes. When you are ill, your eyes are already irritated, so be certain to take frequent, longer breaks from staring at the screen. One of the things we do when staring at the computer screen is that we blink less frequently. Learn more in this Science Daily article: Blink Often to Avoid Computer-Related Eye Woes.

Adapt Your Usual Work Habits

If you’re a blogger, have pre-written posts for such occasions. Or post a youtube video or a list of questions for your readers.

Lydia Sharp has several tips to offer for writers like throw your usual goals out the window and allow others to help you at Writer’s Unboxed.

At Create Write Inc. the tip I like best is: find projects that are ‘easier’ to work on: if editing is easiest for you do that, or mind mapping, or getting caught up with e-mail. In other words, rearrange your priorities when possible.

No matter what your occupation,(yes, I most definitely believe housewife and mother to be occupations!) do short work periods followed by rest periods. Let go of the things you just cannot do. You’ll get back to it.

If it still looks like you won’t make a deadline, call your customer ahead of time to say, I wanted to let you know that I believe you deserve the best product I am able to provide for you, but I am ill and may not finish on time. Then the two of you can discuss reasonable alternatives in a way that maintains respect.

Employ Your Support System

I hope you are all healthy and do not ever need these tips on how to write when you are sick. I also hope that if you get sick, you have a support system to run errands, fix your chicken soup, and help you take care of yourself until you are better. Sometimes support systems can help you when you can’t help yourself. Like the man in this video helps the puppies who just can’t stop crying:

Can you write when you are sick? Is it productive writing or do you find you have to rewrite? Have you ever made your health worse by continuing to work through it?


  1. Fantastic post and topic, Lynette. Hope you’re feeling loads better today!

    I interviewed Roy Baumeister, a renowned expert on the brain, recently who spoke of the importance of resting when you’re sick. The brain and body have only a limited supply of glucose, our main energy source. While ill or injured, we need as much of that glucose as possible to go toward healing.

    I’ve learned the hard way what happens when I work my butt, er brain, off when sick. “I’m lying down, I’m still resting!” Nope. Typing while horizontal still uses fuel. I love your suggestion of working in small bits. Seems the most practical way to go when work and healing are necessary.

    1. Thanks, August. Yes, I am feeling much better.

      You have interviewed the most interesting people! Yes, you’re right. Typing while horizontal still uses fuel. Rest means, rest the whole body which is really hard for me to do!

  2. hope you feel better soon Lynette. I’m one of those people who needs sleep and lots of it to recover. I can tell I’m getting sick by my fatigue and then I’m just flat on my back for several days. good news is that I don’t get sick too often. Great post. Love the puppies. makes me want to go and get another one.

    1. Louise, if I’d pay more attention to the signals my body sends, I’d notice my fatigue is increasing so I must be sick. Instead, I push it to the limit, then have to give in and sleep and recover. Fortunately, I’m usually quick to heal. I’m feeling better already.

      Puppies, they get me every time. I’d have 101 if I could. 🙂

      Thanks so much for you get well wishes and support.

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