6 Things a Freelance Writer Can Do When They Are Feeling Sick

Tis the season to be sick.

Hella sick. I’ve been a freelance writer for two years and a mother for almost four years. And guess what? I’ve been hella sick only twice during this time and three times in my entire life.

Now, when I say hella sick I don’t mean going to the hospital with IVs or having some emergency in the middle of the night. No. I just mean the flu. But, hell, the flu kicks butt and it literally zaps the life out of you.

6 Things a Freelance Writer Can Do When They Are Feeling Sick

And now that I have twins, I’m waiting for them to get sick. My son already has a fever. My husband – bless him for working from home – took care of all of us and now is becoming sick.

Now as mom, you just can’t get sick. It’s like an unwritten rule once you become a mom. But, what if you’re a mom and a freelance writer? Not only do you have a house and kids to take care of, but also clients with deadlines.

Typically the hella sick that comes with fevers and vomiting and other things (ahem) usually springs up with no indication. I was sitting in my makeshift office typing a blog post when I noticed my hands were like ice. I couldn’t type because my hands were so dang cold.

Then suddenly, nauseousness. This led to the bathroom and all the food I ever ate came out in that time! Sorry! But yeah I was totally sick.

I stopped early and covered myself with a million blankets and convinced myself it was just food poisoning. It’ll go away now that I expelled it all out of my system, right?

Well no. It’s been over 24 hours and I’ve barely ate anything and am just drinking water, but finally, my fever is gone. I’m not out of the woods yet. I’m weak and I can’t push myself too much. Tomorrow the rest of my family will be sick so I will be tending to them.

But, as a freelance writer, what the heck do you do when you are that sick and you have deadlines coming up (are soon)? Here are the six things I did so that I don’t miss out on deadlines and still got better.

1. Took Time to Rest

The first thing you gotta do is rest. Give up and lay down. Let the fever take over before you take Tylenol. This will rapidly make you better when the fever does the job it’s suppose to do.

When I was first hit, I stopped working. In the morning, I slept till 10 am and tried to help around the house. I did a load of dishes and still helped my twins with certain things like their potty. But, after that I was spent. I had to admit that I wasn’t better and I still had to rest.

So take it easy and sleep.

2. Don’t Look at Your Email

Seriously. Turn it off. You don’t want the headache of people reaching out to you. You can wait a day or two and the world won’t explode online.

Remember that you don’t work for your clients. You work with them. So don’t feel pressured to have to be always online or attentive with your emails. If you are worried, though, muster some power and create an auto message that you’re “out of the office.”

3. Don’t Push Things Until the Deadline

I’m bad at this. I tend to push things until the deadline is soon and then I work on my projects. But, I’m getting better. Since a lot of my deadlines are at the end of the month, I have the beginning of the month to tackle my personal projects and client work.

I’m sick in the beginning of the month so I don’t have anything major that’s due right now. But this doesn’t mean I don’t have work to still do. Research, newsletters, updating my course, interacting with my new students and all the other little things a solopreneur does with their biz.

In your business, make sure you start on your projects sooner than later.

4. If You Can Sit Up, Write

Last year, the whole family got the NoroVirus. This can happen when you have kids. The parents get hella sick. During that time there was a pressing deadline and I HAD to get it done. So, when I could actually sit up, I wrote. Yes, I was light headed and dizzy, but I did it.

I didn’t want to email the client right before the deadline and say I’m sick. The project was almost done and I just had a couple of things I had to refine it, so even if I was feeling out of it, I still did it.

It’s up to you how you feel and the work you have, but if you can sit up for a bit, get your head in your work and do a little writing.

I’m not 100% and I’m writing this blog post. Hopefully it makes sense? 🙂

5. Consider Outsourcing

Now, if you have looming deadlines, it might be a good idea to start outsourcing aspects of your projects. This can be researching, outlining and the first draft of a post. Outsourcing can help you write more too (when you’re not laying on your death bed sick as a dog).

Some of my course students are at the point in their business that they have a full plate of work but want to start picking up higher paying clients. Well, you can start outsourcing some parts of your work so you have time to take higher-paying clients.

And when you have some writers in your network, they can help you get out of a pickle if you’re totally sick.

6. Ask for An Extension

Okay. There are some times when you just have to ask for an extension. But, only do this if the deadline is in three-to five days – not the next day.

For example, even though I’m almost better, I’m not 100% and my children will probably be sick tomorrow. If I had a deadline in the next five days, you bet I would be emailing the client and ask if I can turn it in a week later.

You’re Not Going to Lose a Client When You’re Sick

Hey, I know.

Your fear is that you get super sick and you lose a client, or all of them. I hear ya, but I’m pretty sure that won’t happen (unless you have a client that isn’t human). People understand and if they want your best work, you have to be at your best capacity.

Now it’s your turn – tell me how you handle your freelance writing work when your hella sick.

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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20 Comments

Hi, Elna! First of all, best wishes! I hope you can get well soon! I’ve just discovered you website. I’m loving it this far! I am heading to my last year at college now, finishing my degree in Languages, and freelance writing looks like my dream job. I know I still have a long year ahead, but then I thought ‘Why not start right now?’ So I am setting up my blog and trying to read as much advice as I can. The problem is: I’m hella sick too. And it is not just the flu (I wish!). I have this bad gastritis that makes me feel sick pretty much all the time, so I have to keep running to the bathroom. It’s horrible! So I loved these tips! I’m trying to use #4 right now. It seems to be working. Thank you very much for all the inspiration! Let us hope we both get better soon! XReply to Andressa
Andrea! I hope you feel better. Give it time and find out your trigger foods (I hear dairy, sugar and wheat are irritants). Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know your story! I love helping new writers!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, I’m sorry you were under the weather – I hope you’re feeling better by now. I try to work through my illnesses too but there are times when we’re so sick, we just have to throw the white flag and surrender to it. Sometimes I think it’s the body’s way of saying, “okay, you don’t want to rest and take care of yourself so we’re going to get sick and make you rest”. These are great tips you shared – especially the outsourcing tip. It’ll keep our name and blog out there while we’re on the mend. Hope you’re having a great week Elna! CoriReply to Cori
Hi Cori, Yes I know! I can usually work through a head cold or minor sickness but not like the stomach flu! In over my head. My daughter still has a fever!! It’s mild though so I suspect she has some underlying thing like an ear infection…off to the doctors!Reply to Elna
Great post! I recently had the flu for almost two weeks! After about 3 days I had to email my clients to let them know my situation. I asked for an extension (of 3-4 days) from each of them, and they all were sympathetic to my plight and had no problem letting me take time off. I’m for the mindset of, if it’s below the neck, you need to rest. Meaning, if it’s more than a head cold, you should do as little as possible to let your body use its energy to rest and get you healthy again. I’m also a runner and have had to learn the hard way that there will be other races, but you only have one body. Good post!Reply to Joanna
Hey Joanna, I like that saying if it’s below the neck then rest! Good point for sure. Congrats on your running! I need to step it up and start doing some exercising but right now it’s like -32C outside!!Reply to Elna
Most people are very forgiving if they know you are sick. They will wish you a speedy recovery… not get mad at you for being late with their work. At least, this has been my experience. Honesty pays!Reply to Lorraine
Hi Lorraine, You’re right! Clients are human you know 🙂Reply to Elna
My biggest problem is migraines! I seem to get at least one every couple of weeks, and sometimes I just really can’t look at a screen. So if I’m at least upright, I’ll often work on paper and then transfer notes to a digital format when I can see straight!Reply to LJ
Hey LJ, Yeah, sometimes working on screens means more strain on your eyes and body. I make sure to have an ergonomic keyboard and take frequent breaks. Sorry to hear that!Reply to Elna
Oh dear! I thought I was just being plain lazy! Didn’t know it happened to all of us once in a while. Thanks for sharing these great tips Elna. I lurv your blog. I wanna be like you when I grow up. Keep up the good work!Reply to Jennifer
Hey Jennifer! Thanks. Today seems like a better day. Yesterday early morning my son started throwing up and my husband was NOT doing good. Debating taking him to emerg. He ended up staying him and filling his body with replenishing fluids by the boat full. Poor thing!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Excellent tips! What a great way to try to stay on top of things when you’re not feeling well. I really like what you have to say about asking for an extension. Definitely not a good idea to ask for one the day before something is due, it makes you come across as lazy and disorganized. A professional freelancer knows what’s coming up at least a week in advance and is able to forecast what can and can’t be done in a reasonable amount of time. But sometimes you have to be flexible enough to roll with the punches. Good clients understand and expect that. Thanks for sharing this Elna, this is very helpful at this time of year. Happy Christmas and Merry New year!Reply to Christine
Hi Christine! Thanks so much. Yes, you’re right about coming off as lazy if you ask for a extension for your project. Knowing your deadlines ahead of time is important for those unexpected things come around. Enjoy your Christmas!Reply to Elna
Great tips, Elna. Forget about sickness. Sometimes I lose my interest in freelancing and blogging due to cabin fever or writer’s block. It lasts for weeks all the way. Those times, I consider outsourcing the work. I know, it sucks! For weeks, where you hate to sit in front of the screen, damn! It’s tough. And yeah. Life comes before profession. In this chaos, we often tend up forgetting ourselves and our health. From past 5 months, I’ve been heading to the gym to shoot up my dopamine. It’s such a great feeling. Also exposing to bright sunlight immediately after waking up from the bed, works a treat in regulating the overall mood throughout the day. Cheers, Akshay~Reply to Akshay
Great tips Akshay! I wish I had time to go to the gym, but I try to go out with the twins outside to the park at least once a day. It’s nice to get fresh air!Reply to Elna
Great article Elna. Recently I went down with Malaria, it took all my effort but I finished all client work. Outsourcing has never come as a first choice for me, if I cannot do the work, I ask for a deadline extension citing the sickness. But this doesn’t happen often, I always have more time than client work demands. As for tip 2, it’s almost impossible to stay away from my email. I am a full-time writer, so by default, I find myself checking my email every few hours.Reply to Dennis
Hey Dennis, Glad you are okay! That’s great you found a system that works for you. Yes email is hard to remove but it’s necessary if you want to increase your productivity.Reply to Elna
These are great tips. I am currently 4 months pregnant. A very unexpected beautiful surprise. And I want to do it sleep. I am not sick but I will use these tips for sure. Divine CEO/OWNER Ladies Make Money http://www.ladiesmakemoney.comReply to Divine
Hey Divine, That’s great. Yeah, these tips can totally help you if your prego! Good luck.Reply to Elna