Being a writer means a lot of time at the keyboard staring at a computer screen as you type away discovering new characters and exploring new worlds. It can put a lot of strain on your body over time.
I've been writing since I was 10 years of age. I started off writing by hand in notebooks, graduated to a manual typewriter, and then an electric one before word processors became a big thing for a while. Finally, personal computers came around and changed everything.
Things have greatly improved since I was ten years old! Still, writing for long periods of time, researching for my books, social media, and good ol' gaming (The Sims & Guild Wars 2 mostly) can take a toll.
I've had quite a few authors and readers ask me about some of the items I use to alleviate the stress on my body, so here are some things that have helped me as a writer. Some are newly discovered tools, but others I've been using for years.
Note: Click on images for more information and to purchase.
1. Green Lights (eye strain/headache)
Eye strain is a big problem for me. I've been wearing glasses since I was three years of age. I spend a lot of time staring at my dual monitors, my Kindle, and television. During the last few years, I've been suffering a lot of migraines that start off as headaches after long writing sessions. I read on a writer's post on social media that green light can help counter the blue light monitors give off and are also used for migraine treatment. She recommended getting LED lights. I purchased them, strung them on the back of my dual monitors, and tuned them to green. In the last two months, I have noticed a big difference when it comes to eye strain, headaches, and migraines.
2. Compression Gloves (basal thumb joint arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome)
I did a lot of damage to my hands before I ever learned to type. I wrote voraciously in my teens, filling up notebook after notebook. I clenched the pen/pencil so tight in my grip, I wrecked my thumb joint and wrist before I was 20. It's been all about pain management since then. My best discovery (outside my keyboard and mouse) are these gloves. Compression gloves have helped enormously. I used to wake up all the time with numb or painfully aching hands, but compression gloves keep that at bay. It's recommended to wear them eight hours a day, so I wear them to bed. They have vastly improved the quality of my life. I don't wake up with my hands in horrendous pain, swollen, or numb.
3. Thumb Brace (basal thumb joint arthritis)
My worst pain is in my thumb joints. Since thumbs are used so much in typing and gaming, mine have taken a real beating. Sometimes, they even like to pop out of joint. Not the best feeling! I tried the huge bulky velcro thumb braces, but they really hinder my typing and make gaming difficult. I bought a cheap pair off of Wish that fit more like gloves and were softer. They definitely help, but stretch out over time, so I ordered these thumb braces to wear when I'm writing and gaming.
Even if you don't have thumb pain yet, I recommend wearing them to limit your movement so you don't end up with your thumbs popping out of joint in the future!
4. Ergonomic Mouse (basal thumb joint arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome)
It takes some time to learn how to use this mouse. It feels really different at first because your hand is in an entirely new position. I've had variations of this mouse in the past, but this is definitely one of the better ones. I recently upgraded to a LogiTech after I dropped this one on the floor one too many times, but this mouse is worth every penny and lasted 2 years despite my clumsiness. If you've never used a mouse like this one before, it's a good one to start with.
5. Ergonomic Keyboard (basal thumb joint arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back, neck, shoulder pain)
Once you learn how to type on an ergonomic keyboard, there's no going back. I was very resistant to switching since I was used to the standard keyboard, but once I started using ergonomic keyboards, the difference in my shoulder, back, and wrist pain was very noticeable. A lot of writers push back when I recommend this change, but it will save you a lot of literal wear and tear on your body in the future.
6. TENS Unit (neck, shoulder, back pain)
I have chronic pain due to being in a bad car accident. The changes I made above (keyboard & mouse) have helped with my pain management, but there are some days when it's just bad. I might move wrong, slept in a bad position, or there's a thunderstorm rolling in and my body screams at me for relief. TENS definitely helps decrease my pain and I highly recommend it. This is a portable unit, so you can take it with you anywhere.
7. Dragon Dictation Software (overall pain management)
On very high pain days, when typing is not in the cards, I use dictation. It does take some time to get used to it, but it has helped me get through some really rough times when my body just couldn't take the strain of typing. Yes, you're going to have to revise/edit what you wrote, but as long as you are getting words down, I see this as a success. When I was struggling with a lot of pain a year ago, this software helped me finish a book that was languishing in limbo while I struggled with pain management.
It's worth learning how to use it.
I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to decrease the wear and tear on your body and manage any chronic pain you're already suffering.
Note: Each item is an affiliate link that will grant me a small commission if you make a purchase.