Sinus Infection Blues, or How NOT to be a Productive Writer

I’ve done virtually no work for the last four days. I’ve had to postpone calls with clients, none of the manuscripts I’m working on have moved forward, and I haven’t yet started to create the webinar I am supposed to host three days from now.

Most of the last four days were spent in bed recovering from a severe sinus infection.

This is nothing new.

I have a long history of working myself to the point of physical exhaustion, followed by a severe sinus infection (and in one particular case, which you might have already heard me tell you about, pneumonia).

I wanted to start the New Year strong.

I felt refreshed after a Christmas holiday with my family, and I was ready to dive into 2016 with all guns blazing.

Between January 1 and 21, I:

  • Hosted four live webinars (with a fifth coming next week)
  • Successfully launched a new group coaching program
  • Continued to support my existing one-on-one clients
  • Continued make progress on two books I have contracts to ghost write
  • Landed a third ghostwriting gig
  • Developed a referral strategy to bring new clients into my business
  • Participated in my bi-weekly critique group
  • Conducted half a dozen consultation calls with potential coaching clients
  • Was interviewed by Carleton University for a magazine article as well as by a local start-up for an article on their blog
  • Continued to make progress on the second draft of my work-in-progress novel, and as well as wrote the first draft of my second children’s picture book
  • Hosted a house guest for the last two weeks
  • Continued to take care of my three children, including taking my 6-year-old and 3-year-old to their weekly gymnastics, ballet, and ice skating lessons
  • Played 4 games of ice hockey

Between January 22 and 24, I’ve:

  • Laid in bed swallowing antibiotics and spraying a nasal spray up my nostrils

What I have outlined here is NOT a good model for long-term productivity.

Productivity isn’t working yourself to the bone for four weeks, just so that you can spend four days in bed with snot pouring out of your nose and your head throbbing with a constant sinus headache.

We cannot do everything, no matter how hard we try.

Even when our minds are ready to continue to push forward, our bodies eventually break down.

Working hard and consistently is part of being a success writer, but so is rest and recovery.

As human beings, we need sleep. We need healthy food. We need community and connection with our loved ones.

Ambition and drive are necessary.

But so are patience, mindfulness, and good health.

Please, don’t follow my example. I urge you to be smarter than me. Don’t take on more than your body can handle, even if your mind thinks that you can.

Books don’t get written when you are down and out sick in bed. Stay healthy and take care of yourself.


grey backKevin T. Johns is an author, writing coach, and ghostwriter. He has helped hundreds of writers from around the world get ideas out of their heads, onto the page, and into readers' hands. Get your free copy of his short guide for authors below.


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  • Kevin, Sorry to hear you’ve been overdoing it. But there is a remedy, albeit a humorous one. Maybe you should become a member of the International Institute of Not Doing Much. Do a Google search.

    I very much enjoy your stuff. Thanks.


      Reply Reply April 14, 2016

      Not doing so much is great advice, Christopher. I’m trying to put it into action these days!

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