1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Best position for writing--avoiding body fatigue?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JosephMarch, Apr 12, 2014.

    If you still use pen (or pencil!) and paper to write, may I ask where or how you sit to do your writing.

    I am ridiculously traditional, and I insist on good ol' paper and pencil to write. I have just started, and I grabbed an empty spiral notebook and pencil. I hated the pencil coupled with that particular notebook, so I am now using a pen.

    I am noticing neck fatigue after sitting in my armchair, plus my hand hurts! I did some writing at my dining room table this morning, and feel uncomfortable again. It has been years and years since I've done so much writing at once. My middle finger is wonderfully dented already :)

    I really don't want to do first thoughts on a computer. I need the tactile sensation of words flowing from my pen. I like the process of scratching out and flipping the pages.

    Any tips you non-beginners want to share? Thank you!
     
  2. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I sit at my desk at home with a pad of 5 by 8 paper and a pen and I write I sit in my grandpa's old desk chair that I inherited from him when he died.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I had to use pen and paper, I'd never get anywhere with my writing. Computer is so much faster, tidier and kinder on the hands and neck. There are hundreds of thousands of words to be written, per book, I think it'd be a very slow process, writing by hand. As for comfort, a really good chair and desk at the right height can make a difference.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2014
  4. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    When I used a binder, I would pretty much curl up around it. Basically left forearm resting against left thigh, shoulder to wrist, cheek not quite touching the cover, possibly sitting on steps or a really low chair...

    When I work with the tablet, I'll slouch in the recliner and brace my left arm with my left leg.


    If you can stand the distraction, try a new position every page or every three pages. (I used wide-rule or typewriter paper and wrote huge.)
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    When I write with pen and paper, I move around a lot. I might start in bed, propped up against the headboard. I'll move to my desk and sit in the office chair I have there. If that gets uncomfortable, I'll move to the easy chair in my room or to the couch in the living room. When I do that, I use a little lap desk - a flat piece of wood with a cushion underneath, so it stays put in my lap. It's surprisingly stable. Sometimes I'll go outside and sit on one of the stools we have for our spa.

    I'd probably get all kinds of pain if I stayed in one position for hours. The key is to keep changing position.

    John Steinbeck wrote in pencil, too, and he used round pencils because he found the hexagonal ones cut into his fingers too much. He also built himself a writing table with an angled surface, like a drafting table. He could tilt it up towards him so he could sit straighter, without hunching over a horizontal desk. You might try doing that.
     
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  6. LeighAnn
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    LeighAnn Member

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    I write about 2 million words a year, all by hand. I sit in a zero gravity chair and have a custom made desk on rollers. I write for hours in this chair and am perfectly comfortable as long as I have a blanket over my lap.
     
  7. Lucy1712
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    Lucy1712 New Member

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    As a fellow hand-writer, I sympathise!

    I'm usually quite horrible with my posture at the best of times and when writing I am no better. I prop my notebook on a clipboard and then proceed to slouch around the confines of my desk chair. I have, on occasion, ventured out to sit on the lounge but usually get distracted by the family and retreat. To say my back and neck snaps and pops on a regular basis is an understatement!
     
  8. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Now I'm developing what I call paper-rash on my pinkie, in addition to the middle finger dent. Lovely, huh?
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    When I write by hand, often my sweat makes it more difficult and screws up the look of the page - it gets damp and wrinkles up. I sometimes take a small piece of paper or a napkin and place it under my hand as I write. It slides easily across the page I'm working on and absorbs the sweat. Maybe something like that would prevent the rash.

    And try a round pencil! Or use a big fat mechanical pencil - that's what I use, when I use a pencil at all. It can't possible dent your finger.
     
  10. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I do most of my writing on the laptop as I can flick from tab to tab with research/other docs that I've saved/character bio's/other parts of the book etc but I do have a plain paper journal that I write notes in. Everything from character's hair colour to medical procedures, addresses to research contact emails and loose printouts of family trees and maps.

    When writing in the journal I use a pencil as I prefer the neatness of being able to rub out any mistakes or when I make changes rather than scribbling stuff out.

    More often than not, I listen to music when I write so doing it on the laptop means I can do it anywhere in the house (or car/friends house/beach/park) and still listen to music.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ow! I never do that! I just draw a line through it, or a big X if I want to delete a whole paragraph. I need to be able to see what my first idea was, even if I've decided against using it. The idea of completely erasing anything scares me to death - what if I decide I want to go back to it? What if my mistakes inspire me later on?

    I love to write in pen precisely because I cannot delete it - I can only cross it out. I believe that seeing the earlier ideas, the whole evolution of a piece of writing, is valuable.
     
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  12. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    I had a particularly bad pencil, so I switched to a pen. I will have to look for a round pencil!
    I have to say, I have a tinge of satisfaction when my hand cramps up during the day, at non-writing times. It reminds me of all the work I've been doing!
     
  13. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    it's mostly spelling errors that I rub out - you know, when your brain is moving too quickly for your hand to keep up and you start missing letters out. :) But also, I don't do so well with looking at past stuff that I've changed. If I've changed it, I've changed it for a reason, usually to fit in with something else that happens somewhere along my timeline so having the previous thoughts there, albeit crossed out, would only confuse me.

    And I can never find a good pen that writes as smoothly as a pencil without leaving blotches of ink.
     
  14. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I stand a lot when I write, believe it or not:). I totally understand that sitting in one position can give you cramps. A bunch of research came out recently (based on NASA studies of astronauts living in space) that sitting for long periods is also extremely unhealthy and can predispose you to a variety of diseases--! Writers more than likely violate this rule daily, but I've found that by getting up a lot and just changing positions constantly---even standing at a counter or something---I not only feel better but actually get a different perspective on what I'm writing.

    This sounds very weird and I don't know if anyone else has experienced it, but I find that my edits are actually better when I'm on my feet about three feet away from the computer screen.:D:D
     
  15. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    You could always write like I am now--in bed, hanging off the edge because your significant other is taking up 90% of the mattress, therefore reducing your space to a minute sliver on the extreme far side of the bed.
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Gosh. I didn't realise so many of you younger folks still write by hand! This is heartening to read, although I don't do it AT ALL any more. (My handwriting deteriorated during my working years, and has never recovered!) In fact, I don't write by hand at all, except to jot down notes, write grocery lists, etc. I found myself keying in and printing off a short note to stick inside a birthday card the other day, and thinking ...lordy, how things have changed.

    I work at a desktop computer (brand-new Mac Mini (my second), older FormacOxygen monitor, old-fashioned stacked Mac keyboard, mouse, printer, etc.). I like the formality of sitting that way to write. I have a very comfortable office swivel chair, good lighting, spacious desk, etc. I get up frequently to walk away, just for a change of position, and get up frequently to check source books, notes, etc. But that's my 'workspace,' and I love it.

    I'm going to hate the day when desktop computers aren't available any more, and I'll be forced to switch to a laptop. Not only do I hate the thought of having to keep its battery charged up, but I HATE flat keyboards. My fingers keep slipping. I also don't like the fact that you can't adjust the distance between the keyboard and the screen. Laptops are fine for people on the go, but I'm not keen to see them replace the desktop.

    Turns out, research has come out just this week that laptops and tablets are NOT good for posture. Quelle surprise...
     
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  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ever since I was a teen I write best (by hand) when I'm curled up like a turtle in my bed, lol. Even now when I'm older and can't stay like that for a long time anymore without having strange pains in back and legs I still find it the best way to write. If it's because it saves the neck or because it evokes memories of good old times I don't know. But it works, for me at least. Otherwise I prefer the pc. I have a hard time sitting at a desk or in a chair writing by hand. When writing on the pc I've started to prefer sitting in bed, back against the wall and the laptop on my knee. Any old way that doesn't remind me of being in school, lol.
     
  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I remember reading somewhere that Thomas Wolfe, who was very tall, would write by hand standing up, using the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Of course, refrigerators were much shorter then...
     
  19. blinkstun
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    blinkstun Member

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    I write a billion words a day, with the help of my anti-fatigue advanced ultrachair.
     
  20. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    I lean back in the chair.

    If I use "proper posture" in the style my ancient mom and I were taught, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, my back starts to hurt. Mom's did too. After ten hours or so, I end up with a heating pad draped over my back. It helps a lot. A whole lot.
     
  21. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I like being curled up in my desk chair as I write. I'm slouched in the chair, my knees tucked in so my feet are resting on the edge. If I'm getting leg cramps, I slouch down even further and extend my legs out against a wall or on the nearby window sill.

    Yeah, awkward looking, but very comfortable. :D

    @minstrel - You can do the same with your computer. Use the 'strikethrough' function to mark out mistakes, but leave it there. I do see the niceness of using pen and paper though. Thing is, my handwriting is such crap that I really don't think even a Rosetta Stone and Indiana Jones could translate it. ;__;
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
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