Going Into the Mine, Don’t Forget Your Dictionary: Writing With a Disability, Part One

Today, I am going to focus on the beginning of a series of blogs about writing with a disability. For those who are do not know me, I have Cerebral Palsy (I will shorten it to CP for now on). Basically, CP is brain damage. It affects physical and language developments. There are three kinds of CP: 1. walking, 2. mild and 3. severe.  My CP falls under the second category. I am wheelchair bound due to the physical part of CP. When I was in junior high, I realized that my while my CP affected some of my language development it didn’t affect my creativity. To me, being slow at writing didn’t mean I couldn’t write. I know that I will always need some help to smooth over my writing, but I know without a doubt, that I will be a successful writer.

Being disabled, presents daily challenges that most people take for granted – from basic cares to taking a walk or shopping. Being a writer is no different. While every writer has their own method, each and every one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. I have come to realize that having CP (or any other disability) adds an additional weakness. I work hard at not allowing my disability to slow my dream down. Recently, with the help of my co-writer, I have come to realize that I am my own writer and while I may not be able to do things like other writers do, I can effectively get my projects written. It will just take some slight modifications on my part and a wealth of accepting them.

This week I am going to focus on word counts. For the past decade, it has been drilled into me that the publishing business is all about word count — type, type, type then faster, faster, faster.  This world is filled with heavy demands of deadlines, guest appearance and readings. It is a hurry up and wait environment.  Most of which, even with my disability, I can meet. However, I need slight modifications and special assistance in some areas. Publishers have good reasons for their demands – to many to list at this time. I fully understand them but with an understanding agent and editor, I know, without a doubt, I will successfully publish many projects.

In my case, however, word counts are my ruination due to the fact, each and every time I place “word count” to my daily goals, I end up stressed out and having to stop writing for the session. Sometimes this leads to the end of my work day because it takes me a while to remove the stress that I put on myself. Towanna is helping me let go of all the unfair demands I place on myself and to set more reasonable goals and expectations. A decade long habit of demanding a word count daily, weekly, and monthly is going to be a damn hard habit to break.

Even as I work on pieces of writing where word count does not matter, such as blogging, I keep looking at my processor’s word count because of my uncontrollable urge to know what progress I have or have not made. Sometimes, I irritate myself over such actions. I try work through its’ rapture and not to allow it to consume me or affect my work but that is often easier said than done.

So to those of you out there, with or without disabilities, that has the desire or need to write, my suggestion to you is to read a lot of blogs on how other writers succeed in this craft then work your ass off to find what works for you. Don’t let a disability or anything else in life keep you from your dream of writing – just modify what is necessary then get BICHOK (butt in chair hands on keyboard) and march through the mines proudly to produce the piece of art that you know is deep inside of you waiting to get out.

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One response to “Going Into the Mine, Don’t Forget Your Dictionary: Writing With a Disability, Part One

  1. Hi Wade,

    Those word counts also work the other way sometimes. Op-ed pieces and letters to the editor generally have an upper limit on the word count, and often my technical writing projects are page limited. That creates the opposite problem of trying to squeeze everything you want & need to say into a few words. I must admit, though, that facing a 500 word limit or a 50 page limit in a technical document is much less daunting than trying to bang out thousands of words a day, created straight from your own imagination.

    Uncle Fred

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