Five Do’s and Four Don’ts for Disabled Sex Writers
Editor’s note: Images used throughout this post are from the Disabled and Here Collection featuring disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) across the Pacific Northwest.
Can you be a successful sex writer and have a disability? Definitely! I am one of them. I have had dyslexia and bipolar I disorder for most of my life. At 40, I was diagnosed with a host of autoimmune disorders. In less than six months I went from working 100 hours a week as the head of a state agency to being unable to get out of bed without assistance.
As I found help with my health and was able to start working part-time, I started to write. I had not planned to become a sex writer, but that is what the universe had in store.
Here is what I have learned after seven years as a disabled sex writer.
Do’s for Disabled Sex Writers
Be Realistic About Your Capacity.
People with disabilities are often unable to meet a full-time production schedule despite our best intentions. Our various disabilities will determine how and when we can write. Be honest with yourself about the time it takes to produce a piece and how your health impacts your writing. Be gentle with yourself.
Produce When You Are Able.
Most disabled writers have periods where we are focused and able to write. These are wonderful times! When you are productive take advantage of it. You can always squirrel away blog posts, articles, and stories to trickle out pieces at times you are not up to writing.
Be Honest with Your Publishers.
It is possible to be a disabled writer and have continuous work with publishers. I write for multiple publishers as a ghostwriter of erotic novels. Whether you are ghostwriting, putting out books, blog posts, chapters, or articles, you need to communicate with your publisher.
When you accept an assignment or have a piece accepted for publication, you will also receive deadlines. Be honest about your ability to meet them. If you believe you can meet the stated deadlines, that is great! If the deadlines are not on a timeline that will work for you, communicate that. Letting a publisher know that you need to change a deadline because you have a medical procedure coming up or that you need extra time to accommodate your disability, be straight forward about it. Most are willing to work with you.
Use Helpful Tools.
There are many helpful tools out there for dealing with a variety of disabilities. There is no need to struggle through without help to “prove you can do it” for your pride.
Voice recognition apps and programs are useful for people with limited hand mobility. The “read aloud” function in Word’s editor is helpful for folks with dyslexia editing their own work. There are many screen readers for people with vision issues. There are task management tools to help people with memory issues. Finding tools to help address your needs will make you a better and more productive writer!
Write About What You Know.
This is especially important for disabled folks. There is little erotica featuring disabled people. Our bodies and our experiences have been hidden when it comes to sexy writing. There is no reason for this! We are sexy people and should take pride in writing about our lives.
Readers out there crave authentic representation of their lives, including their sex lives. If you are deaf, blind, missing a limb, are neurodivergent, or have other disabilities, work it into your smut writing. Your work will find an audience. Be the first one to release an entire volume of erotica featuring blind folks. Put out blog posts about people in wheelchairs getting down and dirty. Write about sexy talk for autistic folks. We need your voice in our smut!
Don’ts for Disabled Sex Writers
Don’t Hide Your Disability on Social Media.
There are lots of disabled folks on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media who are great supporters and friends! Avoid the temptation to hide your disability because ableds are uncomfortable talking about disabled folks. Talking about your disability will help you connect with others.
Don’t Listen to the Ableist-Shaming on Social Media.
There is a lot of shaming people with disabilities and who do not fit predominant beauty standards. It is easy to become disheartened by bullying comments.
BLOCK THEM. There is nothing better for your mental health than blocking out ableist bullies. They add nothing good to your life. They are not going to support your career. The less you take in ableist comments, the better your online experience will be!
It’s okay to say no to assignments. It can be difficult to turn down jobs and opportunities, especially if you are new to a writing career. It may feel like you are never going to get another job if you turn one down. However, if you overcommit and then cannot produce what you agreed to, it can be more devastating to your ego and possibly your career than letting a few opportunities pass.
Stop Using Your Disability as an Excuse to Hide Your Work.
Many writers I have worked with feel that the work they create which includes their voice as a disabled person is not for the public. Many people have written sexy erotica involving disabled people. However, they do not feel anyone else will want to read it. Likewise, people with learning disabilities and cognitive disorders will often feel their work is “not up to par” for some reason.
Share your writing! Part of being a writer is sharing your writing with others. You may only feel comfortable sharing it with a few close friends at first. That is great! Share away. Do not let your self-censorship around your own shame or disappointment in your body and brain keep you from connecting with others. There are millions of us out there who crave sexy work that reflects us. This means we need your work so that we can share our experiences.
If you’re a disabled sex writer, do you have any tips to share? Feel free to leave a comment and add to this list!