(Or answering email or responding to IM requests or to comments or been on Twitter or read many blogs.)
Like almost every writer I know, I have a number of chronic—though not particularly bad1—injuries, that were caused by (or flare up when) I spend a lot of time at my computer. Sitting at a computer for long hours is not good for your body. Which is why so many writers, receptionists, data processors, computer programmers etc etc2 have repetitive strain injuries, headaches, chronic back and neck problems, shooting pains in the arms and hands and so on and so forth.3
Like many of you, I frequently spend more than fourteen hours a day at my computer.4 A recent injury (not sitting-at-computer related) has made that impossible. In order for my injury to heal I have had to drastically reduce my time at the computer, which forced me to prioritise what I do there:
- Write novel.
- Answer urgent business related email.
- Answer other emails.
- IM with friends.
- Read blogs, twitter etc.
Here’s what most days since the injury have looked like:
- Write novel.
I no longer spend more than four hours on the computer. If the pain flares before four hours I stop. Four hours is not long so my novel gets my top priority. Many days writing my novel is the only thing I do at the computer. Ironically, I’ve written more in the last month than in the previous six. The book’s going well and I’m loving it. Bless, this injury!5 I have not once gotten past no. 4 on my list. So that is why you have not heard from me.
The acute injury is improving, slowly but surely.6 However, I have decided to stick to the current regime at least until the injury is completely healed and maybe longer because I have experienced less pain with my other chronic injuries as well.
In fact, February has seen me increase the amount of walking I do every day, I’ve taken up Pilates7, and I’ve upped the amount of time I spend at the gym.8 Injury aside, I feel better than I have in a long, long time. I’ve been reading way more books and manga as well.9
Because of this injury I’m fitter than I was, more flexible and, best of all, getting more writing and reading done. All good, right?
Not exactly. The reduced computer time has meant that I have not been communicating regularly with many of my close friends. I’m massively behind on email. I no longer IM.10 I feel like I’m losing touch with my online communities, which may sound trivial, but as Varian pointed out last week that sense of community is very important. It’s a large part of why I blog in the first place. Not blogging and responding to your comments has been difficult.
In fact, that is why this post. I don’t much like whingeing about my health here.11 Boring! But I couldn’t really think of any other way to let people know that even when I’m not responding I’m thinking about them. I feel especially bad about all the lovely fan mail I’m not answering.12 Several of the letters people have written me about Liar and have reduced me to tears.13 Thank you.
Thank you also to all my guest bloggers. You’ve kept this blog alive with entertaining, moving, informative, funny, wonderful posts. Bless you all. And thank you readers for supporting the blog in my absence. I’ve been so delighted to see the continued volume of traffic and comments. Yay!
One last thing: I know a fair number of you are in your teens and twenties and spending a vast amount of time at computers.14 If you’re not already taking care of your body now’s the time to get into good habits. Take frequent breaks, have an ergonomic set up,15 mouse with both hands16, take up yoga/pilates/tai chi/some kind of something that’s all about putting you in touch with the muscles in your body,17 drink gallons of water,18 stay as fit as you can, go outdoors etc etc.
You only get one body. Trust me, it will turn on you if you don’t treat it right.19
- I know people who have been crippled by RSIs and now can only write with voice recognition software. [↩]
- There are bazillions of jobs that involve long hours sitting in front of a computer. [↩]
- Any kind of repetitive movement done day after day can lead to injuries. I know a house painter with carpal tunnel. In fact, almost every profession has occupational hazards. I wish that careers days at school would include a list of the health risks & how to avoid getting them alongside all the other information they give about jobs. [↩]
- I have, on occasion, spent fourteen hours straight just IMing. Yeah, I know. [↩]
- No, not really. [↩]
- To repeat, it’s not a drastic injury. [↩]
- On doctor’s rec. I was dubious, but it’s been great. [↩]
- While injured I can’t do upper body strength stuff but I can do lots of cardio. [↩]
- Pluto is awesome! [↩]
- Which I miss so much. It’s such a great way to stay in touch and shoot the fat. It’s also a great way to stay online for hours and hours and destroy all that great rehab work. [↩]
- Especially as I know many people who are dealing with much, much worse than I am. [↩]
- Once I’m properly healed I’ll be devoting time to answering it. [↩]
- In a good way. I am a big sook but that doesn’t mean the letters aren’t beautiful and moving. [↩]
- I know several people in their twenties who are already dealing with RSIs. [↩]
- Yes, writing hunched over your laptop on a couch is really bad for you. [↩]
- I have two mouses attached to my keyboard and alternate between them when I work [↩]
- Just to state the obvious: different things work for different people. [↩]
- Drink much water = pee much. Which means getting up a lot. Which is a very good thing. [↩]
- Not that you aren’t your body. Mind/body split, you are imaginary! [↩]