The afflictions that come with Writing

Posted: April 29, 2014 by writingsprint in Uncategorized

Writers always think about their inspiration. How many of us think about the physical side? Come to think of it, I always write better after a good game of volleyball.

Fredrik Kayser

When we talk about writing-related afflictions, people tend to jump straight to mental stress and point to emotional stress as the smoking gun. But something many do not realise is the toll a writing lifestyle takes on our bodies. Given the physically stagnant nature of what we do, there are a myriad of things we can end up suffering from if we don’t take care to look after ourselves. Anyone with a deskjob is proably already familiar with the dangers of frequently sitting down for long periods of time.

Writing will change your body, almost as much as your mind. Our posture will be horrendous, our weight will either go up or spiral down denpending on the person, our hands can grow to suffer from frequent cramps, and then there’s something I struggle a lot with, backpain. Mine comes from an old skiing injury, which only makes exercising so much…

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  1. A.D. Everard says:

    That’s actually an important point on writing. People – writer’s included – tend to think only of the mental side of things, the writing itself, characterization, editing, plotting, punctuation, etc., etc. Nothing about physical strain.

    For me, it’s RSI (repetitive strain injury) in hands, writs, arms and shoulders. I “flap” – big shoulder and arm movements like a slow-motion bird flapping. It improves the circulation and eases the RSI into manageable scale. Sounds crazy, but I’ve found it’s the best thing for it.

    The whole condition would clear up if I left writing for 8 weeks. Trouble is, everything I do has to do with my hands. So, I’d also have to give up doing crosswords, cross-stitch, reading books (at its height, just holding a book open hurts, never mind reading it in bed), playing computer games and all lifting and carrying.

    Is there anyone in the world who can do that? Comatosed patients and being dead don’t count.



    • I don’t play click-intensive video games as much as I used to. If I could afford it I would write stories longhand and pay someone else to type them — I think the physical interaction with the ink and the page helps the creativity, but there isn’t enough time to write and then type. And leave writing for eight weeks? I doubt I could do it for eight days.

      Sometimes I massage my hands when I write. I wonder if piano would build up the finger muscles enough to help.


      • A.D. Everard says:

        Piano will add to the problem. The movements are very similar to typing. I learned a little bit of piano, and I like it (not that I’m any good at it), but repetitive strain is taking repeating short movements continuously. Anything repetitive will do it.

        Longhand is as bad. Longhand makes my hands and wrists ache and cramp more than typing – also I find I can free-flow on the computer, correct and change without having to redo the good bits. 🙂

        If you’re suffering from sore hands and wrists, the two things I found worked best was (ridiculous as it sounds), that slow flapping movement of arms. You just stretch your arms out sideways and above your head, breathing in, then down again, breathing out. Three times only will make a difference. It’s the most effective thing I know. Yes, I did feel stupid doing it at first, but I was surprised and pleased that it worked. It takes a little while to kick in.

        The other is letting warm water run over my wrists. That’s just lovely.

        If you think you have or are getting RSI – no rubbing. No flicking your hands. You want big slow movements, and to break from typing every couple of hours to just walk around (I’m told it should be every hour, but when I’m working, the day flies and I don’t even see the clock).

        RSI and carpel tunnel syndrome are all wrapped around the same issues. Its a swelling that happens naturally as the body tries to repair itself. Loading exercise on top of that won’t help any. It’s not a weakness, it’s an injury.


  2. Wow… great advice. Thanks, Allyson! I’ll work on my arm flapping 🙂 .


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