First published on 12/29/2016 http://www.almostanauthor.com/writing-disabilities-kathryn-m-b-johnson/
I have a disability. In fact, I have several. My body dictates everything for me: when I write, how I write, and where I can write. What it doesn’t dictate is what I write, and it certainly can’t tell me I am unable to find a way to write.
Above all, having a disability doesn’t diminish my desire to write.
I’m sure most people are familiar with the story of Helen Keller but did you know that Agatha Christie, the best-selling novelist in history – aside from the Bible and Shakespeare had a learning disorder? Or that Albert Einstein probably had autism, and his students had to lead him to his appointments?
Many famous people, including writers, accomplish what they love despite a disability. You need only Google famous people with disabilities to see how many have overcome challenges to make their dreams come true.
When you have a disability, the activities in your life are different from the norm. The similarities to living life to its fullest potential remain the same for anyone. Like the famous people I’ve mentioned, to write with disabilities means you create the strategies for when, where, and how you work based on what is best for you. I’ve had to make many changes to adapt to my personal challenges.
When I Write
I write when my body allows me to write. It’s this simple. If my body doesn’t allow it, I listen to my body and adjust my schedule accordingly.
How I Write
I use a computer, wire bound composition books, a tape recorder, and Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Most new computers, tablets, and phones have some sort of speak-technology available today. I keep all my tools for the task within reach.
Where I Write
I have an office space in my home. I write at an old desk, and I use a good fitting chair. If sitting at the desk becomes too painful I might write on the living room sofa, in a recliner, at the dining table, or in bed. I’ve also written in the car, in the doctor or dentist office waiting room. If I have pen, pencil, and paper, or my tape recorder I can write, or dictate into my tape recorder.
More Strategies for Writing
Depending on your specific set of challenges the following items are important to me as a writer, and you may find them helpful as well.
A person who wants to write knows they want to write. Without the desire, the prospect of doing it cannot be accomplished.
Disabilities and challenges come with health issues. Taking care of yourself is vital. Your special needs and your doctor’s orders will dictate your course of action. Follow the cues of your body. If you need a break, don’t hesitate. Exercise and a good diet are important for your body, mind, and spirit. Drink plenty of water to give your body the ability to function as it was meant to function flushing out toxins, and keeping the brain and our mental acuity strong. Always remember to respect your body.
I strengthen my spiritual connection. I give thanks for each new day and my God-granted abilities. Having a spiritual connection for your soul is calming. Your spiritual connection will give you a sense of purpose. Faith supplies meaning in a person’s life that drives us to do what we need, or want to do.
To write well, you must read, or listen to, and study the craft of writing. Include books, magazines, and online resources on topics you want to write about. Read outside your normal genre. Be surprised and inspired by a subject you may have never encountered before. If you can’t physically read, have someone read to you.
Find like-minded individuals to support you, and support them as well. Writing is a solitary and lonely endeavor. When you have a disability, this can feel even lonelier. Take online classes and workshops and engage in the forums. Find a writer’s group or book club you can join. If you can’t go out, bring them to you. Start your own! Facebook and Twitter are good choices, but be careful not to let any social atmosphere eat up precious writing time.
Here is are a few of my favorite resources I’ve found helpful in my writing life.
- Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking Software, headset, digital tape recorder: http://www.nuance.com/dragon/index.htm
- Writers and Editors website for tons of writing resources: http://www.writersandeditors.com/major_writers_organizations_57410.htm
- The U. S. Small Business Administration for persons with disabilities for the business side of writing: https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/how-start-business/business-types/people-disabilities
- An inspiring disability website with tons of information: https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/publications/
Remove the D, I, S, what’s left is Ability. Always believe in yourself.