Wench Ergonomics

A_Lady_Writing_Vermeer–Susan here, presenting some thoughts on the Wenchly approach to ergonomics. I've tweaked with some additional Wench comments since this morning's posting. Read and enjoy!

Writing can be a demanding physical activity – especially when it goes on for days on end. Authors spend LOTS of time at computer keyboards and with pen and paper too, endless hours of repetitive movement with perhaps not the greatest posture, factors that can take a toll on various body parts. But writers have plots to resolve, characters to develop and deadlines to meet, so we push through and get the job done. And we deal with discomforts best we can.

The physical nature of writing mostly involves sitting –- as fingers Fingerskeybdfly over the keys, wrists may be angled; shoulders may be tight and hunched, necks forward, eyes straining to see what’s on the screen; and backs, hips, legs and feet must support those all-important writing muscles in the hands, fingers and eyes. Not to mention the physiological needs of the brain (that would be another blog entirely)!

Da Vinci_VitruvianYet do we take breaks often, walk around, stretch our legs and backs, shake our hands and arms? Not regularly, if the creative urge is in force and the deadline is near. Are the chair and desk a proper fit, with the back well supported, spine balanced, arms relaxed, feet on the floor? Not always. Even in the best ergonomic circumstances, writers could be leaning and slumping while typing at lightning speed. We put in long hours in the same chair, go without sleep, and fuel ourselves with caffeine, further tightening stressed systems and muscles.

Recently the Wenches were chatting about this and discussing what helps us. It all started when Wench Anne’s doctor put her into wrist braces after the havoc wrought by a recent deadline blitz. “I gave myself tendonitis/carpal tunnel, so have been staying off the computer for the most part,” she told us one day.

Hand anatomyMost of the Wenches—Anne, Mary Jo, Susan, Nicola, Pat, Andrea, Joanna and Wench Whipster Sherrie– have developed physical glitches from long writing hours. Mary Jo recommends the liberal use of wrist braces. “With all the deadlines I've faced in the last year or two, my wrists are doing some serious complaining," she says. "Some days I wear a brace on each wrist and another on each elbow. Susan's son, Dr. Josh, made a good suggestion when I hit him up for free advice—wear a wrist brace to bed because at night the wrist can get bent in ways that exacerbate the nerve damage. I gave it a try, and saw an immediate improvement. Still a ways to go, but haven't had any bad episodes since then. Now wrist braces are going into my travel kit as well as a pair on my bedside table!” Wrist support at night is a first line therapy—if wrists are still weak and troubled, more help may be necessary.

Wrist anatomyCarpal tunnel syndrome is the bane of writers — an inflammation in the sheath that carries nerves from the wrist into the hand, it can result in pain and even long term damage. It can occur in people who perform prolonged repetitive motion, resulting in repetitive stress injury, or RSI. Other diseases and conditions can bring on carpal issues too, but keyboard use is a frequent cause in writers.

Symptoms “most often occur in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. If you have problems with your other fingers but your little finger is fine, this may be a sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. A different nerve gives feeling to the little finger. You may first notice symptoms at night. You may be able to get relief by shaking your hand,” reports WebMD’s page on carpal tunnel.  “Tendon inflammation resulting from repetitive work, such as uninterrupted typing, can also cause carpal tunnel symptoms,” states medicine.net. 

Arm handWench Nicola says she sometimes has RSI issues from keyboard use, and is getting treatment for it. Mary Jo is trying contrast therapy, recommended to her by a writer who has found relief this way for wrist and hand problems. A physical therapy technique, contrast therapy involves alternating hot and cold water immersion for hands and wrists (and is used for other injuries). The changing temperatures can reduce swelling and improve circulation and therefore healing.

Of working on her laptop with her wrists at awkward angles, Wench Joanna says: "Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Harrison Ford points to a spot on his elbow and says, 'This doesn't hurt?' I'm like that, except I don't have a spot on the elbow. The other aches go away, but the wrists keep at this ouching thing and I feel very stupid. Is there a Carpal-Tunnel-Stupid Syndrome?  That's what I have…so now I wear a wrist brace when I sit down to work for a long time. Everyone Hand who sees this thinks I have injured myself in some accident, so I try to look like I ride horses or ski or engage in other enterprises more interesting than staring at a computer screen." 

My own experience with carpal-tunnel-like symptoms — numbness in the hands and fingers, pain in wrist as well as elbow and shoulder — originated in a pinched nerve in the cervical vertebrae, affecting nerves feeding into the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers. Allergies prevented me from taking anti-inflammatory meds, so I went to a chiropractor, whose treatments released the pressure in my neck. Years ago I learned wrist and hand exercises that help the overworked wrist and hands, and I try to do them fairly regularly. They gently stretch and align the wrists to keep the nerve sheaths in good shape. Yoga has also helped me, along with other stretching movements.

Anne also finds that exercises help; some very good routines can be found in this YouTube video.

Anne - wrist braces“Just now I’m in wrist bands and splints galore after seeing a hand rehab specialist," Anne says, "little thumb splints to wear day and night for a few weeks and hand/wrist splints for sleeping in and spending time in during the day. Look silly, feel like a martial arts person, but it's remarkably comfortable.” 

Our Blog Whipster Sherrie also gives thumbs up (as it were) to wrist braces night and day when needed. She prefers rigid wrist braces to wear at night. “Another suggestion is to make sure your keyboard is flat,” she says. “Raising the back of the keyboard forces you to cock your wrists instead of keeping them straight, which is very straining.”

Curved keyboardMary Jo and myself, among other Wenches, are devoted users of ergonomic style keyboards. Mary Jo’s keyboard is a nifty little thing that is split in two without the number keypad, and adjusts to hand span. I use a curved keyboard that helps keep my hands and wrists at a good angle. And Mary Jo and Pat use trackball mouses (mice?), further taking strain off the hands. I notice that using my laptop, with its plain straight keyboard, can trigger wrist issues, while my curved keyboard at the desk relieves my wrist discomfort.

Jo Beverley has taken keyboard and typing comfort a further step by using the Dvorak key system.”The Dvorak keyboard layout has the keys in different places,” she explains. “The QWERTY one was designed for early typewriters, and while it does put
_Dvorakleast used keys in out-of-the-way places and common ones and patterns in the middle, it also had to deal with the type on the long arms sweeping up to hit the paper. Keystrokes that frequently happen next to each other need to be separated on the arms or they tend to clash. But Dvorak simply arranges the keys for least hand movement when typing common language such as English.Once one's learned it, it makes using an ordinary  keyboard very fiddly!” Jo says. Just about any computer can now be switched to Dvorak.

In the midst of our email discussion about wrists and such, Wench Pat Rice broke her wrist and is now dealing with that while writing. “Not sure what I can add to the ergonomic discussion aside from don't break your wrist!” she says. “I find a trackball is my best friend, but one geared for the right hand doesn't work so hot on the left. I've also learned that a Dvorak key system is built into MS operating systems, even a left-handed one. Keys can be popped off the board and moved around to work with Dvorak -– the key system makes soooo much more sense than stretching our fingers to reach keys.”

Computer_Workstation_VariablesIn terms of the larger ergonomic issues a writer faces, Sherrie claims “I am the queen of comfort!” She converted a huge recliner into a desk chair by attaching wheels. Now she reclines at the desk with her keyboard in her lap—and it’s handy for watching movies on her large monitor as well, so Sherrie’s all set for desk comfort! 

Mary Jo, Jo Beverley and myself have all invested in Herman Miller Aeron chairs.  Wench Andrea adds "I write too slowly to have wrist problems, but I'm saving my pennies for an Aeron chair because my back does occasionally flare up, and I've heard such wonderful things about it."  

The Aeron is not only ergonomically aligned and comfortable –- it’s also a beautifully designed object that is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. I love my Aeron, which I got in the smallest of three sizes. This chair fits me, and I'm under Aeron_chair_herman_miller1 five feet tall. For many short people, most furniture is too big, causing back strain from the feet hanging down, and so on. Aeron comes in sizes A, B and C; size "A" has a shorter, narrower seat depth and lower arm height. I also had the legs of my desk shortened (thanks, dh!). Now the physical stress of writing is much improved. 

The Wenches have each managed to create a good level of physical comfort and support as we write. We've had to do that. Ergonomics can save writing careers. Wrist braces, exercises, Dvorak keyboards, Aeron chairs, customized desks and other measures are heaven sent for career authors — and for anyone else who spends long hours at the computer.

Do you spend lots of time in front of a computer or laptop too? What have you found that helps you? We'd love to know your experience with wrist strain and other writer-related hazards. 


Queen_hereafter_trade_pbkSusan

 

 (<– one of the books that challenged my wrists and back!)

85 thoughts on “Wench Ergonomics”

  1. Great article, Susan. Although I must add that my experimentation with using MS’s dvorak and popping keys to rearrange has failed. The keys on both keyboards we tried were of varying heights and somewhere between the software and the hardware the proper keystrokes were lost. Back to square one.

    Reply
  2. Great article, Susan. Although I must add that my experimentation with using MS’s dvorak and popping keys to rearrange has failed. The keys on both keyboards we tried were of varying heights and somewhere between the software and the hardware the proper keystrokes were lost. Back to square one.

    Reply
  3. Great article, Susan. Although I must add that my experimentation with using MS’s dvorak and popping keys to rearrange has failed. The keys on both keyboards we tried were of varying heights and somewhere between the software and the hardware the proper keystrokes were lost. Back to square one.

    Reply
  4. Great article, Susan. Although I must add that my experimentation with using MS’s dvorak and popping keys to rearrange has failed. The keys on both keyboards we tried were of varying heights and somewhere between the software and the hardware the proper keystrokes were lost. Back to square one.

    Reply
  5. Great article, Susan. Although I must add that my experimentation with using MS’s dvorak and popping keys to rearrange has failed. The keys on both keyboards we tried were of varying heights and somewhere between the software and the hardware the proper keystrokes were lost. Back to square one.

    Reply
  6. everyday i’m using computer since i’m working at office and especially sending email to customers and yes, very help and confuse when i can’t use computer because all my task was saved on the computer.

    Reply
  7. everyday i’m using computer since i’m working at office and especially sending email to customers and yes, very help and confuse when i can’t use computer because all my task was saved on the computer.

    Reply
  8. everyday i’m using computer since i’m working at office and especially sending email to customers and yes, very help and confuse when i can’t use computer because all my task was saved on the computer.

    Reply
  9. everyday i’m using computer since i’m working at office and especially sending email to customers and yes, very help and confuse when i can’t use computer because all my task was saved on the computer.

    Reply
  10. everyday i’m using computer since i’m working at office and especially sending email to customers and yes, very help and confuse when i can’t use computer because all my task was saved on the computer.

    Reply
  11. A very fun and informative blog, Susan. Am giggling at Anne’s Ninja hands (though it’s no laughing matter)and thinking her characters won’t DARE get ornery with her! Maybe I’ll try a pair just for the intimidation factor.
    The Aeron chair really is a beautiful piece of design and follows the classic maxim of Form follows Function.

    Reply
  12. A very fun and informative blog, Susan. Am giggling at Anne’s Ninja hands (though it’s no laughing matter)and thinking her characters won’t DARE get ornery with her! Maybe I’ll try a pair just for the intimidation factor.
    The Aeron chair really is a beautiful piece of design and follows the classic maxim of Form follows Function.

    Reply
  13. A very fun and informative blog, Susan. Am giggling at Anne’s Ninja hands (though it’s no laughing matter)and thinking her characters won’t DARE get ornery with her! Maybe I’ll try a pair just for the intimidation factor.
    The Aeron chair really is a beautiful piece of design and follows the classic maxim of Form follows Function.

    Reply
  14. A very fun and informative blog, Susan. Am giggling at Anne’s Ninja hands (though it’s no laughing matter)and thinking her characters won’t DARE get ornery with her! Maybe I’ll try a pair just for the intimidation factor.
    The Aeron chair really is a beautiful piece of design and follows the classic maxim of Form follows Function.

    Reply
  15. A very fun and informative blog, Susan. Am giggling at Anne’s Ninja hands (though it’s no laughing matter)and thinking her characters won’t DARE get ornery with her! Maybe I’ll try a pair just for the intimidation factor.
    The Aeron chair really is a beautiful piece of design and follows the classic maxim of Form follows Function.

    Reply
  16. Thanks for summarizing so much good information, Susan! By paying regular attention to ergonomic issues, I’ve avoided ergonomic disaster, but I always feel that I’m one step away from falling into the ergonomic abyss–and I do NOT think I could work by dictation!

    Reply
  17. Thanks for summarizing so much good information, Susan! By paying regular attention to ergonomic issues, I’ve avoided ergonomic disaster, but I always feel that I’m one step away from falling into the ergonomic abyss–and I do NOT think I could work by dictation!

    Reply
  18. Thanks for summarizing so much good information, Susan! By paying regular attention to ergonomic issues, I’ve avoided ergonomic disaster, but I always feel that I’m one step away from falling into the ergonomic abyss–and I do NOT think I could work by dictation!

    Reply
  19. Thanks for summarizing so much good information, Susan! By paying regular attention to ergonomic issues, I’ve avoided ergonomic disaster, but I always feel that I’m one step away from falling into the ergonomic abyss–and I do NOT think I could work by dictation!

    Reply
  20. Thanks for summarizing so much good information, Susan! By paying regular attention to ergonomic issues, I’ve avoided ergonomic disaster, but I always feel that I’m one step away from falling into the ergonomic abyss–and I do NOT think I could work by dictation!

    Reply
  21. Sherrie here. This was a most useful article, Susan. Excellent resources and links. The issue of ergonomics is indeed specific to each individual. What works for one person may not work for the other, but there are certain basics that can be effectively applied across all spectrums. For instance, proper wrist and hand alignment while keyboarding can reduce strain.
    I think my biggest problem is that I don’t take enough breaks. I know that getting out of the chair and stretching and just walking around makes me feel so much better. But when I’m on a roll, I often forget to take breaks. I was cleaning out files and came across an exercise page I’d torn out of a health magazine. These are simple exercises one can do at the desk. I have placed that page in a sheet protector and it’s now on my desk, reminding me to do my exercises!

    Reply
  22. Sherrie here. This was a most useful article, Susan. Excellent resources and links. The issue of ergonomics is indeed specific to each individual. What works for one person may not work for the other, but there are certain basics that can be effectively applied across all spectrums. For instance, proper wrist and hand alignment while keyboarding can reduce strain.
    I think my biggest problem is that I don’t take enough breaks. I know that getting out of the chair and stretching and just walking around makes me feel so much better. But when I’m on a roll, I often forget to take breaks. I was cleaning out files and came across an exercise page I’d torn out of a health magazine. These are simple exercises one can do at the desk. I have placed that page in a sheet protector and it’s now on my desk, reminding me to do my exercises!

    Reply
  23. Sherrie here. This was a most useful article, Susan. Excellent resources and links. The issue of ergonomics is indeed specific to each individual. What works for one person may not work for the other, but there are certain basics that can be effectively applied across all spectrums. For instance, proper wrist and hand alignment while keyboarding can reduce strain.
    I think my biggest problem is that I don’t take enough breaks. I know that getting out of the chair and stretching and just walking around makes me feel so much better. But when I’m on a roll, I often forget to take breaks. I was cleaning out files and came across an exercise page I’d torn out of a health magazine. These are simple exercises one can do at the desk. I have placed that page in a sheet protector and it’s now on my desk, reminding me to do my exercises!

    Reply
  24. Sherrie here. This was a most useful article, Susan. Excellent resources and links. The issue of ergonomics is indeed specific to each individual. What works for one person may not work for the other, but there are certain basics that can be effectively applied across all spectrums. For instance, proper wrist and hand alignment while keyboarding can reduce strain.
    I think my biggest problem is that I don’t take enough breaks. I know that getting out of the chair and stretching and just walking around makes me feel so much better. But when I’m on a roll, I often forget to take breaks. I was cleaning out files and came across an exercise page I’d torn out of a health magazine. These are simple exercises one can do at the desk. I have placed that page in a sheet protector and it’s now on my desk, reminding me to do my exercises!

    Reply
  25. Sherrie here. This was a most useful article, Susan. Excellent resources and links. The issue of ergonomics is indeed specific to each individual. What works for one person may not work for the other, but there are certain basics that can be effectively applied across all spectrums. For instance, proper wrist and hand alignment while keyboarding can reduce strain.
    I think my biggest problem is that I don’t take enough breaks. I know that getting out of the chair and stretching and just walking around makes me feel so much better. But when I’m on a roll, I often forget to take breaks. I was cleaning out files and came across an exercise page I’d torn out of a health magazine. These are simple exercises one can do at the desk. I have placed that page in a sheet protector and it’s now on my desk, reminding me to do my exercises!

    Reply
  26. This is great information Susan. I have not worked full time for many years now. But I started with the old manual typewriter, and if you think about those, the whole arm was used because you had to use quite a bit of pressure on the keys. Then I was lucky enough to change to an electric typewriter, and wow, did the boss manage to get so much more work from his staff. The damage had already been done to the poor typists by the time the occupational people had worked out that very little movement of the arms occurred – only the fingers. I remember the ‘powers that be’ being really miffed that their staff had to be given time away from their keyboard. Now, of course everyone has a keyboard of some sort, even youngsters with their mobile phones. I have had problems and really the only remedy is ease off, even if it is for a full day. And relax!

    Reply
  27. This is great information Susan. I have not worked full time for many years now. But I started with the old manual typewriter, and if you think about those, the whole arm was used because you had to use quite a bit of pressure on the keys. Then I was lucky enough to change to an electric typewriter, and wow, did the boss manage to get so much more work from his staff. The damage had already been done to the poor typists by the time the occupational people had worked out that very little movement of the arms occurred – only the fingers. I remember the ‘powers that be’ being really miffed that their staff had to be given time away from their keyboard. Now, of course everyone has a keyboard of some sort, even youngsters with their mobile phones. I have had problems and really the only remedy is ease off, even if it is for a full day. And relax!

    Reply
  28. This is great information Susan. I have not worked full time for many years now. But I started with the old manual typewriter, and if you think about those, the whole arm was used because you had to use quite a bit of pressure on the keys. Then I was lucky enough to change to an electric typewriter, and wow, did the boss manage to get so much more work from his staff. The damage had already been done to the poor typists by the time the occupational people had worked out that very little movement of the arms occurred – only the fingers. I remember the ‘powers that be’ being really miffed that their staff had to be given time away from their keyboard. Now, of course everyone has a keyboard of some sort, even youngsters with their mobile phones. I have had problems and really the only remedy is ease off, even if it is for a full day. And relax!

    Reply
  29. This is great information Susan. I have not worked full time for many years now. But I started with the old manual typewriter, and if you think about those, the whole arm was used because you had to use quite a bit of pressure on the keys. Then I was lucky enough to change to an electric typewriter, and wow, did the boss manage to get so much more work from his staff. The damage had already been done to the poor typists by the time the occupational people had worked out that very little movement of the arms occurred – only the fingers. I remember the ‘powers that be’ being really miffed that their staff had to be given time away from their keyboard. Now, of course everyone has a keyboard of some sort, even youngsters with their mobile phones. I have had problems and really the only remedy is ease off, even if it is for a full day. And relax!

    Reply
  30. This is great information Susan. I have not worked full time for many years now. But I started with the old manual typewriter, and if you think about those, the whole arm was used because you had to use quite a bit of pressure on the keys. Then I was lucky enough to change to an electric typewriter, and wow, did the boss manage to get so much more work from his staff. The damage had already been done to the poor typists by the time the occupational people had worked out that very little movement of the arms occurred – only the fingers. I remember the ‘powers that be’ being really miffed that their staff had to be given time away from their keyboard. Now, of course everyone has a keyboard of some sort, even youngsters with their mobile phones. I have had problems and really the only remedy is ease off, even if it is for a full day. And relax!

    Reply
  31. Just found this blog thru History Hoydens and this is a great post! I’m signing up to receive your newsletter for sure 🙂
    I had surgery for CTS in 1996 and still use PC to this day, not only for writing but my job is primarily data entry…the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard works well for me, and as for chairs, my home office has the balance ball chair from Gaiam. It is a bit weird at first, but since my day job requires butt in chair at keyboard for 8+ hours daily, that chair is a total lifesaver!

    Reply
  32. Just found this blog thru History Hoydens and this is a great post! I’m signing up to receive your newsletter for sure 🙂
    I had surgery for CTS in 1996 and still use PC to this day, not only for writing but my job is primarily data entry…the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard works well for me, and as for chairs, my home office has the balance ball chair from Gaiam. It is a bit weird at first, but since my day job requires butt in chair at keyboard for 8+ hours daily, that chair is a total lifesaver!

    Reply
  33. Just found this blog thru History Hoydens and this is a great post! I’m signing up to receive your newsletter for sure 🙂
    I had surgery for CTS in 1996 and still use PC to this day, not only for writing but my job is primarily data entry…the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard works well for me, and as for chairs, my home office has the balance ball chair from Gaiam. It is a bit weird at first, but since my day job requires butt in chair at keyboard for 8+ hours daily, that chair is a total lifesaver!

    Reply
  34. Just found this blog thru History Hoydens and this is a great post! I’m signing up to receive your newsletter for sure 🙂
    I had surgery for CTS in 1996 and still use PC to this day, not only for writing but my job is primarily data entry…the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard works well for me, and as for chairs, my home office has the balance ball chair from Gaiam. It is a bit weird at first, but since my day job requires butt in chair at keyboard for 8+ hours daily, that chair is a total lifesaver!

    Reply
  35. Just found this blog thru History Hoydens and this is a great post! I’m signing up to receive your newsletter for sure 🙂
    I had surgery for CTS in 1996 and still use PC to this day, not only for writing but my job is primarily data entry…the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard works well for me, and as for chairs, my home office has the balance ball chair from Gaiam. It is a bit weird at first, but since my day job requires butt in chair at keyboard for 8+ hours daily, that chair is a total lifesaver!

    Reply
  36. My back kills me at work, so I’ve ordered a new chair. My legs go numb just from sitting at my computer. For my wrist pain, I try squeezing one of those balls whenever someone comes into my office. It does help.

    Reply
  37. My back kills me at work, so I’ve ordered a new chair. My legs go numb just from sitting at my computer. For my wrist pain, I try squeezing one of those balls whenever someone comes into my office. It does help.

    Reply
  38. My back kills me at work, so I’ve ordered a new chair. My legs go numb just from sitting at my computer. For my wrist pain, I try squeezing one of those balls whenever someone comes into my office. It does help.

    Reply
  39. My back kills me at work, so I’ve ordered a new chair. My legs go numb just from sitting at my computer. For my wrist pain, I try squeezing one of those balls whenever someone comes into my office. It does help.

    Reply
  40. My back kills me at work, so I’ve ordered a new chair. My legs go numb just from sitting at my computer. For my wrist pain, I try squeezing one of those balls whenever someone comes into my office. It does help.

    Reply
  41. Have any of you ever tried using dictation software, so as to avoid having to keyboard so much? Or is it not conducive to creativity?
    Harlan Ellison has often said that he couldn’t write on anything but a manual typewriter because the slower speed at which he could put words on paper enabled him to edit as he wrote. and he liked the tactile sensation of hitting the keys. I learned on a manual and all I can say, he must have had fingers of steel because my finger bones would hurt after just an hour, and forget about nail polish (though I doubt if polish was an issue for Ellison).
    Didn’t Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer write their books using fountain pens? That sounds like sheer drudgery and maybe shows the depth of their drive to write.

    Reply
  42. Have any of you ever tried using dictation software, so as to avoid having to keyboard so much? Or is it not conducive to creativity?
    Harlan Ellison has often said that he couldn’t write on anything but a manual typewriter because the slower speed at which he could put words on paper enabled him to edit as he wrote. and he liked the tactile sensation of hitting the keys. I learned on a manual and all I can say, he must have had fingers of steel because my finger bones would hurt after just an hour, and forget about nail polish (though I doubt if polish was an issue for Ellison).
    Didn’t Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer write their books using fountain pens? That sounds like sheer drudgery and maybe shows the depth of their drive to write.

    Reply
  43. Have any of you ever tried using dictation software, so as to avoid having to keyboard so much? Or is it not conducive to creativity?
    Harlan Ellison has often said that he couldn’t write on anything but a manual typewriter because the slower speed at which he could put words on paper enabled him to edit as he wrote. and he liked the tactile sensation of hitting the keys. I learned on a manual and all I can say, he must have had fingers of steel because my finger bones would hurt after just an hour, and forget about nail polish (though I doubt if polish was an issue for Ellison).
    Didn’t Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer write their books using fountain pens? That sounds like sheer drudgery and maybe shows the depth of their drive to write.

    Reply
  44. Have any of you ever tried using dictation software, so as to avoid having to keyboard so much? Or is it not conducive to creativity?
    Harlan Ellison has often said that he couldn’t write on anything but a manual typewriter because the slower speed at which he could put words on paper enabled him to edit as he wrote. and he liked the tactile sensation of hitting the keys. I learned on a manual and all I can say, he must have had fingers of steel because my finger bones would hurt after just an hour, and forget about nail polish (though I doubt if polish was an issue for Ellison).
    Didn’t Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer write their books using fountain pens? That sounds like sheer drudgery and maybe shows the depth of their drive to write.

    Reply
  45. Have any of you ever tried using dictation software, so as to avoid having to keyboard so much? Or is it not conducive to creativity?
    Harlan Ellison has often said that he couldn’t write on anything but a manual typewriter because the slower speed at which he could put words on paper enabled him to edit as he wrote. and he liked the tactile sensation of hitting the keys. I learned on a manual and all I can say, he must have had fingers of steel because my finger bones would hurt after just an hour, and forget about nail polish (though I doubt if polish was an issue for Ellison).
    Didn’t Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer write their books using fountain pens? That sounds like sheer drudgery and maybe shows the depth of their drive to write.

    Reply
  46. Thank you for such an interesting post, Susan. I’m trying a combination of ergonomic furniture and physiotherapy to deal with my shoulder problem.
    Janice, I tried dictation software a while back. Had great fun talking to it whilst I took the dog for a walk! Unfortunately it didn’t “read” my voice patterns very accurately so I gave up as I spent so much time correcting it that I might as well have written it down in the first place. However I hear the technology has improved since then so I am considering giving it another go.

    Reply
  47. Thank you for such an interesting post, Susan. I’m trying a combination of ergonomic furniture and physiotherapy to deal with my shoulder problem.
    Janice, I tried dictation software a while back. Had great fun talking to it whilst I took the dog for a walk! Unfortunately it didn’t “read” my voice patterns very accurately so I gave up as I spent so much time correcting it that I might as well have written it down in the first place. However I hear the technology has improved since then so I am considering giving it another go.

    Reply
  48. Thank you for such an interesting post, Susan. I’m trying a combination of ergonomic furniture and physiotherapy to deal with my shoulder problem.
    Janice, I tried dictation software a while back. Had great fun talking to it whilst I took the dog for a walk! Unfortunately it didn’t “read” my voice patterns very accurately so I gave up as I spent so much time correcting it that I might as well have written it down in the first place. However I hear the technology has improved since then so I am considering giving it another go.

    Reply
  49. Thank you for such an interesting post, Susan. I’m trying a combination of ergonomic furniture and physiotherapy to deal with my shoulder problem.
    Janice, I tried dictation software a while back. Had great fun talking to it whilst I took the dog for a walk! Unfortunately it didn’t “read” my voice patterns very accurately so I gave up as I spent so much time correcting it that I might as well have written it down in the first place. However I hear the technology has improved since then so I am considering giving it another go.

    Reply
  50. Thank you for such an interesting post, Susan. I’m trying a combination of ergonomic furniture and physiotherapy to deal with my shoulder problem.
    Janice, I tried dictation software a while back. Had great fun talking to it whilst I took the dog for a walk! Unfortunately it didn’t “read” my voice patterns very accurately so I gave up as I spent so much time correcting it that I might as well have written it down in the first place. However I hear the technology has improved since then so I am considering giving it another go.

    Reply
  51. I didn’t have carpal tunnel, I had “trigger finger”, a problem with the tendons rather than the nerves. Tried cortisone shots, which reduced the pain but did not make it go away, so I lived with it for several years. Then last January I developed frozen shoulder, and the cortisone shot and physical therapy for my shoulder seem to have significantly reduced the trigger finger. At the same time I had an ergonomic study of my work station done at the office, and they gave me an “A” size Aeron chair and lowered the desk. I also make sure to alternate the mouse so that I’m not always using it right- or left-handed (it helps that we lefties tend to be somewhat ambidextrous). All in all, much better today than in January 2011, although as I (all too rapidly) age I can sense that these problems will get worse rather than better. Best of luck in finding a solution to those still suffering from carpal tunnel or anything else — I selfishly do not want your literary output reduced.

    Reply
  52. I didn’t have carpal tunnel, I had “trigger finger”, a problem with the tendons rather than the nerves. Tried cortisone shots, which reduced the pain but did not make it go away, so I lived with it for several years. Then last January I developed frozen shoulder, and the cortisone shot and physical therapy for my shoulder seem to have significantly reduced the trigger finger. At the same time I had an ergonomic study of my work station done at the office, and they gave me an “A” size Aeron chair and lowered the desk. I also make sure to alternate the mouse so that I’m not always using it right- or left-handed (it helps that we lefties tend to be somewhat ambidextrous). All in all, much better today than in January 2011, although as I (all too rapidly) age I can sense that these problems will get worse rather than better. Best of luck in finding a solution to those still suffering from carpal tunnel or anything else — I selfishly do not want your literary output reduced.

    Reply
  53. I didn’t have carpal tunnel, I had “trigger finger”, a problem with the tendons rather than the nerves. Tried cortisone shots, which reduced the pain but did not make it go away, so I lived with it for several years. Then last January I developed frozen shoulder, and the cortisone shot and physical therapy for my shoulder seem to have significantly reduced the trigger finger. At the same time I had an ergonomic study of my work station done at the office, and they gave me an “A” size Aeron chair and lowered the desk. I also make sure to alternate the mouse so that I’m not always using it right- or left-handed (it helps that we lefties tend to be somewhat ambidextrous). All in all, much better today than in January 2011, although as I (all too rapidly) age I can sense that these problems will get worse rather than better. Best of luck in finding a solution to those still suffering from carpal tunnel or anything else — I selfishly do not want your literary output reduced.

    Reply
  54. I didn’t have carpal tunnel, I had “trigger finger”, a problem with the tendons rather than the nerves. Tried cortisone shots, which reduced the pain but did not make it go away, so I lived with it for several years. Then last January I developed frozen shoulder, and the cortisone shot and physical therapy for my shoulder seem to have significantly reduced the trigger finger. At the same time I had an ergonomic study of my work station done at the office, and they gave me an “A” size Aeron chair and lowered the desk. I also make sure to alternate the mouse so that I’m not always using it right- or left-handed (it helps that we lefties tend to be somewhat ambidextrous). All in all, much better today than in January 2011, although as I (all too rapidly) age I can sense that these problems will get worse rather than better. Best of luck in finding a solution to those still suffering from carpal tunnel or anything else — I selfishly do not want your literary output reduced.

    Reply
  55. I didn’t have carpal tunnel, I had “trigger finger”, a problem with the tendons rather than the nerves. Tried cortisone shots, which reduced the pain but did not make it go away, so I lived with it for several years. Then last January I developed frozen shoulder, and the cortisone shot and physical therapy for my shoulder seem to have significantly reduced the trigger finger. At the same time I had an ergonomic study of my work station done at the office, and they gave me an “A” size Aeron chair and lowered the desk. I also make sure to alternate the mouse so that I’m not always using it right- or left-handed (it helps that we lefties tend to be somewhat ambidextrous). All in all, much better today than in January 2011, although as I (all too rapidly) age I can sense that these problems will get worse rather than better. Best of luck in finding a solution to those still suffering from carpal tunnel or anything else — I selfishly do not want your literary output reduced.

    Reply
  56. Thanks all for the comments – very good to hear other perspectives and experiences with something so common to many of us.
    I can’t imagine whacking away at a manual typewriter for so many pages – my finger bones would be aching too, Janice! – though long before computers, writers were using not only old timey typewriters but fountain pens, and long before that, quills and dipped ink.
    Sir Walter Scott famously wrote one of his longest manuscripts in just six weeks, with quill and ink. Can’t help but wonder how his hands and wrists felt during and after that writing blitz!
    Hey to another Aeron size A person, SusanDC! I love my chair — so great to have one that actually supports me instead of having to compensate with pillows and/or just making do. Kudos to your office for conducting an ergonomic study and following through.
    Susan

    Reply
  57. Thanks all for the comments – very good to hear other perspectives and experiences with something so common to many of us.
    I can’t imagine whacking away at a manual typewriter for so many pages – my finger bones would be aching too, Janice! – though long before computers, writers were using not only old timey typewriters but fountain pens, and long before that, quills and dipped ink.
    Sir Walter Scott famously wrote one of his longest manuscripts in just six weeks, with quill and ink. Can’t help but wonder how his hands and wrists felt during and after that writing blitz!
    Hey to another Aeron size A person, SusanDC! I love my chair — so great to have one that actually supports me instead of having to compensate with pillows and/or just making do. Kudos to your office for conducting an ergonomic study and following through.
    Susan

    Reply
  58. Thanks all for the comments – very good to hear other perspectives and experiences with something so common to many of us.
    I can’t imagine whacking away at a manual typewriter for so many pages – my finger bones would be aching too, Janice! – though long before computers, writers were using not only old timey typewriters but fountain pens, and long before that, quills and dipped ink.
    Sir Walter Scott famously wrote one of his longest manuscripts in just six weeks, with quill and ink. Can’t help but wonder how his hands and wrists felt during and after that writing blitz!
    Hey to another Aeron size A person, SusanDC! I love my chair — so great to have one that actually supports me instead of having to compensate with pillows and/or just making do. Kudos to your office for conducting an ergonomic study and following through.
    Susan

    Reply
  59. Thanks all for the comments – very good to hear other perspectives and experiences with something so common to many of us.
    I can’t imagine whacking away at a manual typewriter for so many pages – my finger bones would be aching too, Janice! – though long before computers, writers were using not only old timey typewriters but fountain pens, and long before that, quills and dipped ink.
    Sir Walter Scott famously wrote one of his longest manuscripts in just six weeks, with quill and ink. Can’t help but wonder how his hands and wrists felt during and after that writing blitz!
    Hey to another Aeron size A person, SusanDC! I love my chair — so great to have one that actually supports me instead of having to compensate with pillows and/or just making do. Kudos to your office for conducting an ergonomic study and following through.
    Susan

    Reply
  60. Thanks all for the comments – very good to hear other perspectives and experiences with something so common to many of us.
    I can’t imagine whacking away at a manual typewriter for so many pages – my finger bones would be aching too, Janice! – though long before computers, writers were using not only old timey typewriters but fountain pens, and long before that, quills and dipped ink.
    Sir Walter Scott famously wrote one of his longest manuscripts in just six weeks, with quill and ink. Can’t help but wonder how his hands and wrists felt during and after that writing blitz!
    Hey to another Aeron size A person, SusanDC! I love my chair — so great to have one that actually supports me instead of having to compensate with pillows and/or just making do. Kudos to your office for conducting an ergonomic study and following through.
    Susan

    Reply
  61. I have a MAJORLY nasty case of tendonitis right now in my left wrist/hand/arm. Going on 6 months now, I’ve been unable to type more than a few minutes at a time. *sigh* Acupuncture has helped in staving off the giant ball of pain, but has sadly not restored my hand to full functionality. It’s extremely frustrating to have the story in my head and not be able to get it out (tried Dragonspeak, blech is all I have to say).

    Reply
  62. I have a MAJORLY nasty case of tendonitis right now in my left wrist/hand/arm. Going on 6 months now, I’ve been unable to type more than a few minutes at a time. *sigh* Acupuncture has helped in staving off the giant ball of pain, but has sadly not restored my hand to full functionality. It’s extremely frustrating to have the story in my head and not be able to get it out (tried Dragonspeak, blech is all I have to say).

    Reply
  63. I have a MAJORLY nasty case of tendonitis right now in my left wrist/hand/arm. Going on 6 months now, I’ve been unable to type more than a few minutes at a time. *sigh* Acupuncture has helped in staving off the giant ball of pain, but has sadly not restored my hand to full functionality. It’s extremely frustrating to have the story in my head and not be able to get it out (tried Dragonspeak, blech is all I have to say).

    Reply
  64. I have a MAJORLY nasty case of tendonitis right now in my left wrist/hand/arm. Going on 6 months now, I’ve been unable to type more than a few minutes at a time. *sigh* Acupuncture has helped in staving off the giant ball of pain, but has sadly not restored my hand to full functionality. It’s extremely frustrating to have the story in my head and not be able to get it out (tried Dragonspeak, blech is all I have to say).

    Reply
  65. I have a MAJORLY nasty case of tendonitis right now in my left wrist/hand/arm. Going on 6 months now, I’ve been unable to type more than a few minutes at a time. *sigh* Acupuncture has helped in staving off the giant ball of pain, but has sadly not restored my hand to full functionality. It’s extremely frustrating to have the story in my head and not be able to get it out (tried Dragonspeak, blech is all I have to say).

    Reply
  66. Ladies! Taoist Tai Chi! Especially the warm-up exercises (called for some reason the Jons). We have many exercises good for wrist, shoulder and neck ills, before we even go into the set. It’s derived from Chinese martial arts, but is slow, emphasizing stretching and balance. For some reason, males start in our senior class but drop out when they realize these little old ladies can hurt you. (heh heh heh)!

    Reply
  67. Ladies! Taoist Tai Chi! Especially the warm-up exercises (called for some reason the Jons). We have many exercises good for wrist, shoulder and neck ills, before we even go into the set. It’s derived from Chinese martial arts, but is slow, emphasizing stretching and balance. For some reason, males start in our senior class but drop out when they realize these little old ladies can hurt you. (heh heh heh)!

    Reply
  68. Ladies! Taoist Tai Chi! Especially the warm-up exercises (called for some reason the Jons). We have many exercises good for wrist, shoulder and neck ills, before we even go into the set. It’s derived from Chinese martial arts, but is slow, emphasizing stretching and balance. For some reason, males start in our senior class but drop out when they realize these little old ladies can hurt you. (heh heh heh)!

    Reply
  69. Ladies! Taoist Tai Chi! Especially the warm-up exercises (called for some reason the Jons). We have many exercises good for wrist, shoulder and neck ills, before we even go into the set. It’s derived from Chinese martial arts, but is slow, emphasizing stretching and balance. For some reason, males start in our senior class but drop out when they realize these little old ladies can hurt you. (heh heh heh)!

    Reply
  70. Ladies! Taoist Tai Chi! Especially the warm-up exercises (called for some reason the Jons). We have many exercises good for wrist, shoulder and neck ills, before we even go into the set. It’s derived from Chinese martial arts, but is slow, emphasizing stretching and balance. For some reason, males start in our senior class but drop out when they realize these little old ladies can hurt you. (heh heh heh)!

    Reply
  71. Thanks, Artemisia, and very true. I’ve been doing various forms of tai chi and qigong for years, and it’s definitely part of the reason that my wrists and fingers are holding up better than expected despite the beating they take on the keyboard (most of my ongoing issues have to do with the ratio of author height to office furniture).
    TC and QG are very beneficial on many levels and can be practiced, well, forever! Highly recommended for writers -and- readers. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply
  72. Thanks, Artemisia, and very true. I’ve been doing various forms of tai chi and qigong for years, and it’s definitely part of the reason that my wrists and fingers are holding up better than expected despite the beating they take on the keyboard (most of my ongoing issues have to do with the ratio of author height to office furniture).
    TC and QG are very beneficial on many levels and can be practiced, well, forever! Highly recommended for writers -and- readers. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply
  73. Thanks, Artemisia, and very true. I’ve been doing various forms of tai chi and qigong for years, and it’s definitely part of the reason that my wrists and fingers are holding up better than expected despite the beating they take on the keyboard (most of my ongoing issues have to do with the ratio of author height to office furniture).
    TC and QG are very beneficial on many levels and can be practiced, well, forever! Highly recommended for writers -and- readers. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply
  74. Thanks, Artemisia, and very true. I’ve been doing various forms of tai chi and qigong for years, and it’s definitely part of the reason that my wrists and fingers are holding up better than expected despite the beating they take on the keyboard (most of my ongoing issues have to do with the ratio of author height to office furniture).
    TC and QG are very beneficial on many levels and can be practiced, well, forever! Highly recommended for writers -and- readers. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply
  75. Thanks, Artemisia, and very true. I’ve been doing various forms of tai chi and qigong for years, and it’s definitely part of the reason that my wrists and fingers are holding up better than expected despite the beating they take on the keyboard (most of my ongoing issues have to do with the ratio of author height to office furniture).
    TC and QG are very beneficial on many levels and can be practiced, well, forever! Highly recommended for writers -and- readers. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply

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