It’s my second last NaNoWriMo post! Wow, that went fast. You’ve all been at it for 28 days now.1 Which leads me to suspect that some of you may be feeling quite sore about now.
Writing, like any job that involves spending hours in front of a computer, has a high injury rate. Almost every pro writer I know has some kind of neck/back/wrist problem. Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injury are very common.
At the end of almost every first draft deadline, when I’ve been writing every day for weeks and weeks on end, and my writing days have stretched out from four hours to twelve or longer, my upper back and/or neck packs it in. I then have to get emergency work so that I can, you know, move my neck.
Once I recognised this pattern,2 I made a whole bunch of changes to stop it happening again. If you’re serious about writing, the time to start with good habits is now, before you become a crippled wreck unable to sign books for your fans.
Here are the changes I made:
- I changed my work set up. No more writing slumped on the couch. All ergonomic all the time for me!
- I started exercising more. I now work out at the gym with a trainer3 a minimum of three times a week. I also try to fit in a long walk at the end of each writing day. And lindy hop when possible.
- I increased the number of breaks I took. I tried one of those programmes that beeps at you every thirty minutes but it kept beeping just as I was nailing a scene or right when I’d finally gotten into the flow of things that I came to loathe the bloody smiling beepy monster and harboured fantasies of ripping its throat out. So I switched to drinking even more water which ensures frequent loo breaks.
- I take a few minutes to stretch my back, neck, wrists and arms every time I get up from the computer.
- I get a weekly massage. It sounds indulgent but truly it’s maintenance. If I’m being massaged weekly as the deadline approaches my body doesn’t pack it in, which works out cheaper than getting all that work when my body is broken.
I have not been perfect at implementing my system. While on tour this year there were no massages, no exercise and I spent a lot of time slumped over my computer in hotels and airports, which led to a recurrence of my neck/upper back injury, which led to emergency cupping:
Not pretty, is it?
You’ve been warned!
Good luck with your last few days.
And don’t forget to check out Scott’s tips. His last one is tomorrow.
- Unless you haven’t started today’s writing. [↩]
- And when I say “I” I mean Scott. [↩]
- Why with a trainer? Cause I find gyms unspeakably boring and I last about ten minutes in them by myself. But three years ago I started working out with a wonderful trainer who has made going to the gym fun. I’m fitter and happier. There are much cheaper ways to stay fit. Like running. Which tragically I cannot do because of various injuries. Have I ever mentioned my sports curse? *Heh hem.* I digress. If you have not already I’m sure you’ll find a method of staying fit that works for you. [↩]