5 Things to Do When You Get Sick at a Writers’ Retreat

Augh this was so frustrating. Last week, I went to The Rainforest Writers’ Retreat, which I love and where I usually get a huge block of writing done.

2016-02-25 17.34.40Little did I know that the conference I’d attended the weekend before was home to A Terrible Crud that was slowly taking out my fellow east coasters. So when I finished my Rainforest Day 1 lecture and felt completely awful, I figured a nap would take care of everything.

I didn’t get out of bed for three days. Three days that I’d set aside to jam out many, many words. So what do you do when you are too sick to write?  Your Mileage May Vary, as always, but here’s what I did.

(with many thanks to my fabulous roommate Kelly, who was the best roommate.)

  1. So Much Napping. My body needed to sleep and I would have been powerless to resist. I’m pretty sure I’d been needing to sleep a lot for a long time, so this was good.
  2. Notes and sketches. I made some small sketches for future projects, which were actually kind of enhanced by the fever-dreams I was having… so look out.
  3. More Napping.  Seriously. I won all of the napping events at the retreat. I even made the word-count list… for napping. (second column, bottom row)
  4. Lots of gazing at the landscape. Bundling up and sitting near the window that looked out over the lake at the retreat was nearly as restorative as napping. I was very lucky to be at a retreat in a lovely spot, and I brought you back some photos.

    2016-02-26 16.24.21
    shot from the window…
  5. Planning. Thinking. Mulling. Reading. All of these things are important, and when my focus is on word count, I don’t always give them the time they deserve. So there was a lot of this too. I was lucky enough to have a copy of Letters To Zell by Camille Griep, and an ARC of Arabella of Mars, by David Levine, both Rainforest writers, to keep me occupied when I wasn’t napping.5b. Posting pathetic selfies on instagram. Yep. I was Spongelungs Patheticpants. Sometimes you just have to give in to the crud.
2016-02-27 20.59.30
fellow Rainforesters Amanda Clarke and Fonda Lee, who I did not infect with con crud…

Post-game: When no longer sick, visiting with friends while keeping an eye on overdoing it. I was lucky that the last day and a half of the retreat, I was well enough to spend some time sitting with friends, and actually doing some writing (wahooo!). But I was still easily the first one to pack it in for the night. While I’m sad I didn’t get everything out of the retreat that I could, I’m very glad to have had the time to rest and come back energized. … still coughing, but also still here.

So what do you do when you’re too sick to work?

2016-02-26 18.18.22
photobombed by my own book.


  1. What a shame, Olympic is one of my favorite national parks! And my sympathies. I just got the flu (for the first time in memory) and had no idea how much it wipes you out. I am still barely productive after almost two weeks. At least I’ve read a lot?

    • Oh! You reading always means good things!

      Olympic is so wonderful. People get tired of me saying “Look! eagles!” But no one gets tired of the rainbows.

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