by Chrys Fey


All surgeries and their recoveries are different. I know this. I’ve had five surgeries to date. As a matter of fact, as I write this I am recovering from my 5th surgery, which I just had yesterday, though by the time you read this, it’ll be months after the fact. I’m currently healing from a tonsillectomy, but the biggest surgery I’ve ever had was spine surgery for scoliosis, a day after my fifteenth birthday. My point is, I have experiences with several different recoveries.

For some surgeries, while you may be in pain and may not be eating much, if at all, you could still be capable of doing writerly things. Other surgeries have harder recoveries, and you may not have the mindpower to write as you did before the operation. If you’re going to undergo an operation in the future and worry you won’t be able to do writerly things, I have some tips for you.

NOTEThese tips are also great if you are sick with a cold or struggling to get back to writing after a bout of writer’s block.


1. Write About Your Recovery

This is an easy way to write that won’t require as much thought and planning as your current work-in-progress would. Since you’re going though recovery, you have all the material and emotions you need to write. Have a journal handy. At certain times of the day, when you’re feeling up to it, jot down a couple of pages about how your night went and how you faired during the day.

Also, write about everything you remember when you were in pre-op, the moments leading up to going unconscious, and what you recall from post-op. Not only are you writing but you never know what may come of those entries. You could create blog posts out of them for anyone looking for detailed stories about that surgery and recovery, or you could construct an article and submit it to medical journals. Most of all, what you wrote could come in handy for a story or even a memoir.


2. List Ideas

Always make sure you have pen and paper close by during your recovery. While you are lounging on the couch or sitting up in bed, you could be compiling a list of story ideas or blog post ideas. Look around your hospital room or home, gaze out the window, and pen any ideas that come your way.

When you drift off to sleep, you may have odd dreams while medicated—I know I did when I was in the hospital for spine surgery—and those odd dreams can be a short story or scene for your book.


3. Read

One task you may be able to manage is reading. However, I wouldn’t recommend a novel or anything that requires too much concentration, at least at first. Short stories and poetry are perfect to read during your good moments. Have a few short stories on your Kindle and a poetry book close by so you can keep your mind growing, bloom ideas, and nurture your inspiration.


4. Have Plenty of Movies on Standby

The easiest thing to do while recovering is watching TV. Before your surgery, start a collection. I recorded a bunch of movies to keep me occupied. Depending on your current WIP, compile an archive of movies/TV shows to watch that remind you of your story, your characters, the setting, the time period, and/or a scene you need to write. As you watch the movies on your list, scribble notes for any ideas you get or things you learn. This is a great way to relax but also do something for your WIP.


5. Plot a Story

To keep your story on your mind for the day when you can really focus on writing, plot out your project as much as you can. You can do this on paper or use a service like Trello, which is free. You can access it on your laptop and sync it to your other devices.

Set up your project on Trello beforehand and begin plotting, but make sure not to do so much of it pre-surgery because you’ll want to plot as you recover. This is great for a new story, a story you’re rewriting, or a story only plotted up to a certain point.

Plotting out your story, in whatever way you choose to do that, will give you a leg-up once you’re fully healed and ready to get back to your desk.


6. Research

The research stage is a good place to be in when you have to recuperate on the couch or in bed. Pick a simple topic to research, such as a setting or a small aspect of your story, such as paranormal creatures. Check out a bunch of books from your local library a day or two before your surgery. Many library districts have websites that allow you to log in with your library card number and renew any books you’re unable to return in time and keep longer while you heal.



Of course, the most important thing is to:

  • Rest/Nap
  • Get plenty of nutrition.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Don’t stress.
  • And monitor your healing.


Now that I’ve written this guest post, I’ll be resting for the rest of the evening. But I can assure you that I plan to put these tips into action. I have Maya Angelou’s poetry book waiting, my journal besides me, and a stack of books for research purposes.

If you’re reading this because you’re preparing for surgery, I wish you all the best! May you have a fast recovery and manage at least one writerly task above.



Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.



About the AuthorChrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog Write with Fey for more tips. @ChrysFey