Writing Discussion

Writers Don’t Neglect Your Body

Run at Sunset
Sunset Runner by Josh Janssen

I’ll admit it. I’ve been terrible about taking care of myself, and my recent bout of sickness was a wake up call. I’m convinced that if I had been a little less stressed, and a little less tired, I could have fought this off sooner. I’d put off vacation all year. Things kept coming up, the timing didn’t work for both of us, but these were excuses. I needed a vacation months ago and the moment I finally got a chance to rest, my body broke down. Don’t let it happen to you!

If I live to 100, I want to keep writing until I’m 100, and if I want to keep writing for a long time, here are a few things I need to change now.

Take regular vacations. Take breaks.

I need a day off from writing at least once a week. I need to stop obsessing. It’s not healthy to keep going at high speed all the time. My brain needs to recharge. I also need to stop putting off vacation time. My body needs to recharge too.

Optimize my computer setup.

Sitting at the desk all day for the day job, and then spending hours at night at the computer can take their toll. I’ve seen it in my fitness level, and around my gut! Back and neck pain are a danger. I’m considering setting up a standing desk at home. Why sit when I can stand and type? Maybe one day I’ll upgrade to a treadmill desk, but right now I don’t have the space.

I also need to make sure my writing setup is as ergonomic as possible.

Practice smart typing.

I noticed a pain in my right hand pinky finger a few weeks ago, and did a bit of experimentation. I discovered it was because of the excessive use of the backspace key. Instead of stretching my pinky finger, I now move my entire hand when I need to reach for the backspace. Just a simple thing like that fixed the pain. One of these days I may purchase an ergonomic keyboard.

Get moving.

I’ve become a lot more sedentary since the dance year came to an end in June. I need to remind myself to keep active. I need to walk to work more often (despite the rain). Maybe I should take up yoga? That would help with the stress too.

What do you do to stay healthy? Do you have any tips to share?

21 Comments to “Writers Don’t Neglect Your Body”

  1. I too had to make a “smart typing” adjustment, when I kept getting RSI on my left hand from tucking my thumb under for the Apple key (equivalent to the Command key on PCs). Now I move my whole hand, and it’s SO much better. (I’m resisting an ergonomic keyboard b/c the Apple designs are just so pretty! Plus it’s a laptop — an extra keyboard kills the portability factor!)

    I think in addition to the big picture breaks, it’s just as important to take small breaks every hour, for the sake of your body and your eyes. Focus on things at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Walk around to loosen your joints and muscles. Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated and your brain clear.

    (Of course, I don’t always practice what I preach… but I try!)

  2. Wow. An idea of a treadmill desk seems great. And even if not that, I highly recommend getting your own writing desk. I did so two weeks back and I feel fab! Before that I was lousy enough to write on my couch! Can you imagine? My neck and back started giving up and I had to look into the matter. Thank God I did.

    Great post; nice tips. πŸ™‚


    1. I wish I had room for a treadmill desk! But yeah, writing on the couch is killer for your back. I have a desk, but my chair is not a proper one (just stolen from the kitchen) and is too short. Thanks BrownEyed!

  3. Up until about two months back (and with occasional breaks of up to a couple weeks here or there) I’d start every weekday morning with a 15 minute jog. Getting up 15 minutes earlier wasn’t that awful, and it made me feel like I was doing something to stay healthy. I’d slowly been working in some situps and pushups, to make sure I was getting a rounded bit of exercise. Things got harder when B.T. started having sleeping trouble (about two months back), and then the soles of my running shoes turned into flip-flops, and I’ve so busy otherwise that I haven’t had the chance to either fix or replace them. At some point I know I’ll return to my morning exercise routine, though.

    1. 15 minutes, that’s doable even for someone as out of shape and lazy as me πŸ™‚ I think that’s a great way to start out with exercise. It must be hard to get any time in with the baby and school.

  4. I have a lot of trouble balancing fitness and writing. With my syndrome, if I exercise I’ll be done for the day. I’ll be lucky to sit up again afterward. If I’m lucky I’ll write before exercise, otherwise I have to wait a good six hours before it’s feasible. Dropping 75 pounds in the last two years might be the top reason I haven’t written another novel. Both things are important, but I’m still working out a balance.

  5. I’d add eat well to your list of tips. As someone who cooks most of my own food (including bread), I can tell that what I cook affects my energy.

    I didn’t realize that you were a dancer too. I’d highly recommend the yoga since it goes well with dancing for keeping one limber and flexible. (Although, I injured my foot this way, but I think that was partially due to my hyper-limber joints rather than really the yoga.)

    1. You make your own bread? That’s so great! I try to cook as much as possible using as many fresh (not processed) ingredients as I can, but baking is where I draw the line. My bread always turns out inedible. hehe.

      Oh yeah, you have to watch the hyper-extension if you’re double jointed in any way, especially with yoga.

      1. At one point I sold bread at work, which was really nice because it allowed me to practice. People would pre-pay for their loaves and I had around a dozen customers. I’d say bread-baking is fairly easy and if you are ever down in SF Bay area, you are welcome to stop by for a “class”.

        You’re right that the fresh ingredients are a good approach. We’re part of a CSA, which encourages us to use lots of fresh ingredients.

      2. Oh thank you for the offer, I may hold you to that one day πŸ™‚

        My husband’s the baker between us, but he’s usually too tired to bake bread. Rolling that dough can be a workout.

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