The Hazards of Writing

hazards of writing, backache and typing, writers' health issues.

Can writing be bad for your health with hazards of all sorts to contend with? Yes it can. As I walk the twenty minute journey to work I often make up conversations in my head between the characters in whatever book I am writing at the time. This can be quite dangerous and distracting if I get too engrossed in what they are saying, I am likely to step out onto the road without being as careful as I should. Sometimes they talk so much I can’t get a word in myself. Lately I have realized that my lips are often moving as I am mentally playing out a scene so I sometimes hold a phone to my ear, to fool passersby into thinking that I am actually speaking to a real person. My children are threatening to buy me a bluetooth earpiece, just for effect. At least that way I will look like I am making a phone call, instead of muttering to myself.

Did you know that e is the most used letter of the alphabet on your keyboard? This has led to me suffering from an unusual complaint. I found this out the ‘hard’ way. A callous has formed on the top of the middle finger on my left hand. No, it’s not the consequence of using any kind of rude gestures. I have been doing a lot of typing over the past three months, more than usual and I searched online to see if the letter e was my problem – and it was. The solution has been to stick a soft pad on that particular key and hope it will alleviate the problem. Has this ever happened to you? I wonder if this is common among writers/typists, however, it is not listed among the ailments that computer use can cause, some of which are:

  • Pain in the neck and shoulders. Also problems with the upper back, arms, elbows and hands.
  • Pins and needles sensation in the arms and hands, which may include muscle spasms or twitching.
  • Stiffness or swelling of the hands or forearms and locking of the fingers.

Those are just the upper body problems. Restless legs, stiff hips and an aching lower back can also be added to the list. Not to mention the eye strain. Writing must be among some of the most physically unhealthiest occupations out there. That is, if you let it. Tiredness can also be mistaken for aching and mild pain. Often this goes away while you sleep and rest, but if you ignore the warning signs things can become progressively worse and you could end up with Repetitive Strain Injuries.

As soon as you feel that ache or tiredness coming on, record how long it took for you to get there. You can then set an alarm to remind you to take a break and do something different  before you reach that state. Rearrange your work area and in between bouts of typing, do some housework, gardening or actually cook a meal from scratch instead of grabbing a quick snack. That will get you walking around the kitchen exercising those legs and stretching your upper body (depending on how tall you are and on how high your kitchen units reach). Be aware of your posture as you type and correct any bad habits before more permanent damage is done.

I have to admit to breaking all the rules. I type for too long, hence the callous. My shoulders and back ache at the end of the day and my hips are stiff when I do eventually stand up from my desk. All of this is going to change from today. My salon job involved me sitting for long periods of time at a desk so I bought a high breakfast bar that allows me to  alternate between sitting and standing as I work. This has made a big difference to me and I have not had to go for as much physiotherapy as before. Yes, my upper body was so bad I needed three months of physio on it.

Has anyone else suffered from typing related injuries? Does the same apply to pianists? Please tell us so we can be forewarned on the hazards of writing and typing (or playing keyboard/piano).

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About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Writers Resource and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Hazards of Writing

  1. Pingback: The Hazards of Writing | The Writer's Workshop Blog

  2. You have a nice blog here, continue the great style 🙂
    Thanks for your visit, comment and following at my blog, very appreciated.
    Irene

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  3. I could relate so much with this post. Not to mention I was pretending not to notice the numbing sensation I have in the forefinger of my right hand while reading through 🙂 I had a hyper-thinking mind in my childhood which resulted in my forefingers drawing or writing involuntarily in air almost whenever I am thinking. My mother has seen my finger moving even when I was sleeping. Even though, this habit faded out as I grew up, my finger works found the replacement with touchscreens and keyboards. Having a job as a Software Engineer doesnt help me either. These days I try to take short breaks by stretching out my fingers and reducing the touchscreen usage as much as I can 🙂

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  4. Taking frequent, short breaks is the best thing to do, I try to remember to do this. Sometimes setting an alarm to remind me is necessary when I have a lot of work to do because I lose track of time.

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  5. lovetotrav says:

    Oh my gosh, this is so me! I sit at my desk with my one elbow on it which is leading to numbness going to my hand. Who knew this could be such a dangerous activity???

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was doing exactly the same thing at first, when I wrote by hand. Since switching to writing everything with a keyboard my elbows stay off the desk. I’ve got a whole new set of bad habits now to correct, 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. meditorlibre says:

    I got a case of RSI in college when I was being taught to touch type, it certainly wasn’t fun. It can also be hard to remember to take breaks when you are on a role! There is a technique that I was reading about a little while ago called the Pomodoro technique where every 25 minutes you take a 5 minute break and every 4th break is 15 minutes. It’s meant to increase productivity but if you use the breaks to stretch and wonder around etc, I imagine it would be quite good physically as well! I found it also helped to keep a notebook on my desk, then if I get tired of staring at a screen, I can switch to scribbling in the notebook and type it up later.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kate Loveton says:

    Oh, I could have authored this post – you’re preaching to the choir, sister! Now, I must stop and massage that writers’ pinch out of my neck. :D. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tarkabarka says:

    Cool post! I definitely have lower back problems for sitting in a non-healthy position for weeks, until I had to suck it up and buy a professional office chair for my desk. It made all the difference.
    Visiting through the blog party! Cheers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Steve says:

    I get “ipad hands” where my hands go numb if I’ve been using it in bed too long. I also call it my “sleeping tablet” as on many occasions it’s fallen on my face in bed as I have fallen asleep still holding it. I also have a habit of staring blankly into space when I am thinking about an idea or how to write a post. I’d hate to see what I actually look like to someone else while I do this lol. Great post and thanks for sharing it at my party!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kashpals says:

    Great post. I guess we all go through these hazards.A footrest could be tried for a good posture and restless legs too.Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 1 person

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