Do you often wake up in the morning with the sound of a typewriter or keyboard pound, pound, pounding in your head? Or find yourself tossing and turning in the middle of the night drenched in your own sweat, fighting the urge to get up and go to the computer?
Then you may have Byline Fever.
A little known virus, displaying similar symptoms to the pandemic Swine Flu, Byline Fever has emerged as the new super-bug, which threatens to cut down the Literary Worlds’ finest – those elite purveyors of the written word – the Freelance Writing Community.
Only submitted one article this month? Getting published less and less? Spending most of your day supine on the couch as opposed to erect at your computer? Then read on. You could be a sufferer!
Recent research has proven that many Freelance Writers possess an extra gland in their brains, close to the hypothalamus. Known as the “obsessopineal”, laboratory tests from a large number of afflicted and flailing Freelance Writers have revealed that the secretions of this gland may be primarily responsible for ‘writer’s lethargy’ or the dreaded ‘writus interruptus’.
Symptoms of Byline Fever may include:
* A constant blinding headache from endlessly searching the pages of Writers Market or LWP. * Disturbing thought patterns, such as a pathological fear of never being published or a nagging belief that you are writing drivel.
* An inability to sleep, which results in the afflicted spending most of the night searching the web for possible markets.
* A swollen and painful wrist from scrolling down endless lists of Publishers and Editors in search of one kind or judicious enough to accept your work.
* A fever over 104 degrees – insidious hot and throbbing sensations, accompanied by a diffuse nervous rash from a combination of malnutrition and agonizing about where your next meal is coming from.
Worryingly, there is no known cure for Byline Fever. There are however a number of strategies that Doctors recommend to assist sufferers in the day to day management of their symptoms:
1. Concentrate on writing short articles rather than longer features. Editors will be much more receptive to a cleverly written 500 word piece than a rambling 3000 word feature, screaming sleep deprivation.
2. Seek out new markets. The Livestock Association’s Newsletter may need new blood, Bloggers of the World will happily accept anything and most things written on a bathroom wall attract a huge readership!
3. Write articles way ahead of the times when they should be published – Easter articles on Mothers Day, Mothers Day articles at Christmas, Christmas articles at New Year and articles complaining about husbands at any time.
4. Keep a diary of events and manage your time efficiently. Divide your day into periods spent researching, periods spent writing and periods for relaxation. Remember to include periods when you have your periods and can’t really do anything but lay on the couch, eat chocolate and watch the midday movie.
5. Fight the stigma and isolation caused by your illness by joining a writing group or attending book clubs and author signings that are frequented by similarly afflicted people AND
6. Don’t take writing or yourself too seriously. Creativity is in the eye of the beholder and you probably won’t achieve the dizzy heights of fame that you crave, until you are dead and creating a stink that the neighbours can no longer stomach.
Remember – you can live a long and acceptably mediocre life with Byline Fever. I am the living proof!