Over the years I’ve learned that sitting at a typewriter/computer isn’t one of the most dangerous jobs a person can have, but it does have drawbacks. My first introduction to this fact came while using a Royal portable typewriter, back in the ‘80s. I actually pounded my right thumb nail off. To be more exact, I hit the space bar so hard with that nail, I caused an infection and the nail had to be removed. Thank goodness it grew back, but I had to learn to use my left thumb for the space bar and only recently reverted back to using the right.
Next problem I encountered was weight gain. Okay, so most of that’s my fault, but the truth is, if you sit on your butt hour after hour, either typing words or staring at a blank screen, you’re not exercising. The other truth is—and I’ve heard this from other writers—there’s something magical about the refrigerator. If I get stumped, simply standing in front of an open refrigerator, staring at the food inside, helps me figure out how to write the next scene. Or so I think. (And, of course, if I have that refrigerator door open, I might as well take out some food and eat it. Right?)
Sitting at a computer can also have a negative effect on a person’s eyes. Now, I have a feeling my poor eyesight is probably due to heredity and age, but I have read articles that recommend looking away from the computer screen on a regular basis to avoid eye problems. Since I now have a great view out the window by my side, I’m constantly following that advice, but when I get involved in the writing, I forget, and I do notice my eyes feel dry and gritty.
Back to exercise. The body really wasn’t created to sit on a chair for hour after hour. Problems I’ve discovered are a stiff neck (on my left side), low back pain, and leg cramps. The right chair can make a big difference in how you sit, but I’ve had a lot of trouble finding that “right” chair. One size does not fit all.
Of course, like any job that has inherent dangers, one can take steps to make it safer. I’m now using a keyboard that doesn’t require a lot of force on the space bar, so my thumb nails are safe; I’ve filled my refrigerator with several choices of low-cal/good-for-you snacks; I make sure I keep track of who’s in the pool and what boats are going by on the river so my eyes get a break; and I walk and go to yoga classes. I’m still looking for that perfect chair, but until I find it, I’m taking breaks and doing exercises to keep my core muscles strong.
Oh…and so far I’ve lost 20 pounds.
So even though that wonderful story dancing around in your head is begging you to stay at the computer, don’t forget to get up every so often and take care of the body. It will pay off in the long run.