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Here’s What Getting a Stiff Neck Taught me About Life and Publishing

Insecure Writers Support Group

Lessons My Stiff Neck Taught Me

The last 10 days I’ve had the world’s worst stiff neck imaginable, and no amount of medication and help from the chiropractor improved matters. It was as if my neck was determined to slow me down just when I needed to pace up.

A neck that doesn’t let you turn your head is a pain in the neck in weird ways.
I’ve had to carry on conversations while looking in front instead of at the person sitting beside me on the train. I’ve asked people to keep to my right, so I can talk to them. I’ve used all kinds of things as pillows starting from foam toys to rolled up towels.
It’s been an agonzing but also an educational experience. Here are a few painful lessons my stiff neck taught me— some are fairly obvious, others not as obvious to me:
1. No matter how determined or desperate you are to achieve your goals or meet your deadlines you must listen to your body. I had to ask for an extension yet again for THE BLUE MONSOON and though that didn’t make me very happy, I had no choice in the matter. Maybe I should’ve listened to my body much earlier. So my new mantra is: get your rest and sleep, and treat them as sacred. Lessons well learned.
2. I’m a people-pleaser so I try to turn up  for events no matter at what personal cost because I think of commitments as absolutely unbreakable. I’ll still respect my commitments but my neck has taught me that sometimes it’s OK to let go and not show up. People understand and respect that your health is your priority. This has included family events –I had to cancel a planned trip–and it brought home to me how much I take my health for granted. I’m lagging behind on guest posts on my blog–the next month I hope to more than make up for them.
3. My stubborn neck also taught me that I assume more is needed of me than really is. I’m dispensable. I need to learn to let go of things I feel like I need to manage. Nothing’s going to fall off the axis because I’m not around, and perfection is certainly overrated. In many aspects of life (and publishing) , it is better to get things done, than get them perfect–these are the lessons I should have learned much earlier.
4. In my personal life, I try not to ask for help, but this situation made me recall that we all need help sometimes. People are kind and if you ask for aid, it is more than likely you’ll get it. I had to ask for help with opening doors, cooking, even getting up from bed.
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, just human. Since the chiropractor says I need to stay away from the screen, and since most of my book efforts are online, I thought I’d begin by asking for help here.
My ARCs need early reviewers–if you read The Blue Bar and liked it, give the sequel a chance. If you haven’t read the first but like dark fiction, I’d love to have youboth books work as standalones.
As you know, I’ll of course do my best to return the favor.
Tag/ email/ DM me whenever you’d like shoutouts, follows, reviews in case I haven’t got to them already.

What about you? Has your body ever taught you lessons? Do you have advice for me? Would you like to help out this author who must stay away from too much screen-time?

My literary crime novel, The Blue Bar is on Kindle Unlimited now. Add it to Goodreads or snag a copy to make my day. The sequel, The Blue Monsoon is up for pre-orders! And if you’d like to read a book outside the series, you can check out You Beneath Your Skin.  Find all info about my books on my Amazon page or Linktree.

My literary crime novel, The Blue Bar is on Kindle Unlimited now. Add it to Goodreads or snag a copy to make my day. The sequel, The Blue Monsoon is up for pre-orders! And if you'd like to read a book outside the series, you can check out You Beneath Your Skin. All info about my books on my Amazon page or Linktree.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – yes we learn we must at times let go – or our body will do it for us. I’m glad the neck is easing … and you’re doing all you can to keep it that way. Good luck with all things – cheers Hilary

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!.. when my neck gives me issues (old age.. 🙂 ) I use Bio-Freeze roll on, it helps me.. sometimes one simply needs to stop the world, got off briefly and reboot.. 🙂

    Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
    to paint a picture, or write a letter,
    bake a cake, or plant a seed.
    Ponder the difference between want and need.

    Dust if you must, but there is not much time,
    with rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
    Music to hear, and books to read,
    friends to cherish and life to lead.

    Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
    with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
    a flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
    this day will not come round again.

    Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
    old age will come and it’s not kind.
    And when you go, and go you must,
    you, yourself, will make more dust!
    (Rose Milligan)

    Hope life is all that you wish for it to be and until we meet again..
    May the dreams you hold dearest
    Be those which come true
    May the kindness you spread
    Keep returning to you
    (Irish Saying)

  • msw blog says:

    I love your new mantra “Get your rest and sleep, and treat them as sacred” very wise advice!

  • I’m so sorry you’re experiencing such pain in the neck! I have the same problem, Damyanti – related to my posture (especially while writing!). It can be quite debilitating. Some excellent lessons there, but I hope you find some relief too. <3

  • mitchteemley says:

    If praying that stiff neck is fading even as I type this, Damyanti.

  • Pam Lazos says:

    Sorry to hear you are in pain, Damyanti. Whenever my neck is stiff or becomes a bit unmovable, I always try to ask myself which side of the story (mine or someone else’s) am I trying not to see. Necks reflect our flexibility in how we think about things so is there anything you are not being flexible about?

  • Jemima Pett says:

    Ten days. You have my sympathies. But I’m with some of the others down the comments list… I’m on ten months and counting… the arthritis has probably got into the spine – bone doc on Friday.

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    That must be so painful and so frustrating! I hope you feel better soon, Damyanti. Once the stiffness goes, please do some neck and shoulder exercises every day, if you aren’t doing these already. And, do take a mini break as often as possible. Set an alarm to remind you to take the break. It will help in the long run.

  • Make sure you keep your neck warm when sleeping and sometimes a good choice of pillow can prevent neck strain from having a pillow which lifts the head unnaturally during sleep. Have you tried physio to loosen up those tight muscles. Don’t spend long hours concentrating on bookwork or computers without moving around and keeping neck muscles active.

  • I had one of those terrible stiff necks when I was a kid and my mother’s friend put liniment on it and wrapped it in a cotton scarf. I reapplied every few hours and in a day or so it was all gone, having slowly released over the hours. I’m not even sure if they sellthe stuff anymore, but it worked like a charm! Hope you feel better soon!

  • Almost two weeks! I’m sorry.
    As I say, know when to say no.

  • Sending healing energy! I hope you feel better soon!

  • setinthepast says:

    Ouch. Hope you feel better soon!

  • Ouch. I often learn from my body. Mostly painful lessons.
    As others have said, rest up and be kind to yourself.

  • Warmth, massage, rest….repeat.

  • Debbie D. says:

    As a veteran stiff-neck sufferer (including arthritis from an old injury), you have my sympathies! Here’s hoping you are feeling better now and getting as much help as you need. All the best to you, Damyanti! 🌹

  • Stiff necks and I are good friends. I finally bought an expensive massager that took care of what would last months in a few days. Sigh with pleasure. I hope yours is gone!

  • I would suggest to listen to your body and take simple rest because when things are unpredictable and annoying nothing can be done to win such a never ending battle. Hope it makes sense. Get well soon and not to forget give some time to heal.