Sometimes, when we encounter a difficult period in life, writing practice and our creative self can both fall by the wayside. And other times, writing is the very thing that gets us through.
Writer Danielle Christopher joins us from her home on the west coast of Canada to talk about how writing carries her through periods of illness and injury.
What does your writing life look like?
After being injured in a car accident, I'm currently on medical leave from the general contracting business I run with my husband. After surviving cancer and a car accident, writing has been cathartic for me while in recovery.
What are you working on right now?
I just completed the first draft of a memoir that deals with grief, raising one neurotypical and one neurodivergent child, and accepting that my mom's story is not my own. I started the book in October 2019, just months after being diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer.
Then, in February 2020, I had to stop working on the book when I was in a car accident. Since then, I've been dealing with postconcussive syndrome (PCS).
Pictured here is Danielle's Traveler, which is adorned with a sticker that says: "Write like you're running out of time."
Writing while battling cancer and recovering from a concussion doesn't sound easy. How do you write through obstacles like that, emotionally and technically speaking?
Writing is my self-care. And like I said, it's been cathartic for me while in recovery. Another motivation to write is that my mother died when I was ten years old. And because I don't have her stories, that motivates me to write mine down for my own children.
Technically speaking, my writing day is all over the place — all over the house, in the car, in waiting rooms, at coffee shops. Sometimes I use Siri to dictate, sometimes I use pen and paper, and of course I use my Freewrite Traveler the most to mold my thoughts into chapters.
Traveler is very gentle on my eyes. Bright lights can trigger migraines and vision troubles due to the concussion, so computers aren't the best option. But on Freewrite, I can type 100-800 words per session. I also love the ease of emailing myself pieces and syncing to my Dropbox!
What's next for you?
Once I finish my memoir, I'm thinking of using my work in film and TV from the 80s to early 2000s to explore fiction. That era was pre- social media, and I have a lot of material!
Danielle Christopher lives and writes in Langley, in the Fraser Valley, BC, Canada. She is an alum of SFU's The Writer's Studio 2022 and 2023. Follow her writing journey on Instagram and Facebook.