Writers live in our heads. Not always a bad place to be, however, we have bodies, too. Sometimes that’s hard to remember. And those bodies are just as important as our imaginations. Let’s be honest—bodies have nasty little ways of getting back at us when we ignore them.
With the advent of tablet technology, netbooks, smart phones, etc., sitting at a desk from nine to five is a thing of the past. At first glance, a great thing. At second glance…what changed is not that we’re no longer on the computer all that time. It’s where are we working. My best friend is currently in a sling because she was doing graphic design curled up in her comfy chair with her laptop. Hello, carpel tunnel. Friends from my writers’ group often show up at meetings in splints, bandages, or support sleeves for their wrists, elbows, and shoulders. The fact this no longer surprises me should have been a red flag.
My own elbow and forearm are twinging some days, and it slowly sank in that, between being swamped at work and trying to squeeze in the sequel to my first manuscript, I am at a keyboard/mouse for ten hours a day. I’m often using someone else’s desk for collaborative efforts (no keyboard drawer), or the dining room table with my netbook because the kids are using the larger desktop system for homework (wrong keyboard height and totally wrong chair); or I’m working on a multi-display format set up across my day-job office desk (twisting to see one screen while typing on a keyboard at a 45-degree angle from it). Suddenly, recent complaints from back, neck, and stomach don’t seem so ‘inexplicable’.
The other night, I set up a desk for my young son in his room, and patiently explained the importance of ergonomics, correct seating, proper work position, adequate lighting, and taking breaks when doing homework or even playing on the computer. Then the irony of that lecture hit me. *wince* Pain does not make the writing process easier. Time to set another example, and try to follow some of those rules myself again.