1. MustWrite
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    MustWrite Member

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    Health, safety, comfort and posture when writing. And writing up trees.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MustWrite, Jun 20, 2013.

    I want to know how other writers find the right position/height/posture/desk/chair etc. Also how have others overcome such things as bad backs, [I have scoliosis], RSI [Repetitive strain injury-I don't know what other countries call it], etc.

    Is there some kind of equation for working out what the height of your table/desk should be compared with your chair, length of back etc?
    I have spent an hour typing on my laptop in a cafe, I think their table was too high for me- I ended up with quite a sore back.
    Some times I type sitting in bed but find it quite tiring..

    Working in my car in my lunch break works not too bad, but it's awkward.

    I really like writing in the bush, especially up a tree, but have to use pen and pad as I can't afford a new laptop..
    Any others like to write in odd places, Where do you get inspired? Or does a cave work better? [low-stimulation-environment?]
     
  2. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Yes there's an entire field of study devoted to finding comfortable and healthy ways to work etc - ergonomics. Google it and you'llno doubt find heaps of useful diagrams about setting up your desk.

    As for the two problems you mention, first scoliosis. This curvature of the spine is relatively common and especially in teenagers as they go through growth spurts. Your doctors should have given you all the information about posture you need to help you adapt your environment to your needs. I won't comment since I don't know in which direction your spinecurves nor how greatly,save to say that if they haven't given you this info then ask them for some.

    With RSI the problem is easier to deal with. It's caused by fingers on keyboards not moving very great distances to press a key. The problem is that the muscles of the hand are then in a constant state of tension though you probably won't notice it so much. When the muscles are constantly tense and yet blood flow to them is not increased they tend to swell / inflame and this puts pressure on the nerve supply controlling them. This in turn is what causes the symptoms.

    The common solutions to this are rest breaks (15 minutes), finger exercises and some anti-inflammatory meds / cold water. However for longer term control you need to rework your typing environment. Ergonomic keyboards may help. Training yourself not to let your fingers hover over the keys is also useful. Anything that makes your fingers move greater distances. Likewise a keyboard with keys that push back harder forcing your fingers into making actual full movements instead of moving just millimetres may help. Actual typewriters where the keys move several inches when you depress them could be good. Also google RSI and I'm sure you'll find plenty of advice.

    However again I would stress that this is something you should speak to your doctor about. RSI can be both progressive and incredibly debilitating. Best to get on it early.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  3. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Yes there's an entire field of study devoted to finding comfortable and healthy ways to work etc - ergonomics. Google it and you'llno doubt find heaps of useful diagrams about setting up your desk.

    As for the two problems you mention, first scoliosis. This curvature of the spine is relatively common and especially in teenagers as they go through growth spurts. Your doctors should have given you all the information about posture you need to help you adapt your environment to your needs. I won't comment since I don't know in which direction your spinecurves nor how greatly,save to say that if they haven't given you this info then ask them for some.

    With RSI the problem is easier to deal with. It's caused by fingers on keyboards not moving very great distances to press a key. The problem is that the muscles of the hand are then in a constant state of tension though you probably won't notice it so much. When the muscles are constantly tense and yet blood flow to them is not increased they tend to swell / inflame and this puts pressure on the nerve supply controlling them. This in turn is what causes the symptoms.

    The common solutions to this are rest breaks (15 minutes), finger exercises and some anti-inflammatory meds / cold water. However for longer term control you need to rework your typing environment. Ergonomic keyboards may help. Training yourself not to let your fingers hover over the keys is also useful. Anything that makes your fingers move greater distances. Likewise a keyboard with keys that push back harder forcing your fingers into making actual full movements instead of moving just millimetres may help. Actual typewriters where the keys move several inches when you depress them could be good. Also google RSI and I'm sure you'll find plenty of advice.

    However again I would stress that this is something you should speak to your doctor about. RSI can be both progressive and incredibly debilitating. Best to get on it early.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  4. hummingbird
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    hummingbird Member

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    As psychotick mentioned, look up ergonomics. There are tons of diagrams about how to position desks, chairs, and computers. Unfortunately, my "real" job involves working at a computer for 10+ hours/day, and despite following the ergonomic recommendations, I still have some problems, but the recommendations do help.

    One of the most common mistakes is having your monitor too low. You do not want to be looking down, or you strain the muscles all the way down your body, causing problems in your neck, back, shoulders, and arms. Raise your monitor up to eye level. This is the biggest problem with laptops - there's no way to keep the keyboard low enough and the monitor high enough without having at least one of those items external. At work I have both external, while at home I use an external keyboard with my laptop on a pile of books to raise the screen.

    I use an ergonomic mouse, which really helps the tendinitis in my right wrist. If it gets aggravated I wear a brace until it recovers - you can pick one up fairly cheap at a pharmacy.

    Try to make sure you aren't tensing your muscles at the computer. Staying relaxed helps keep your body in a better position, and reduces strain. Frequent breaks help relax, too. I find when I'm really stressed at work (and therefore more tense), my back and tendinitis start acting up.

    I've been debating getting a speech-to-text application for writing in strange places, especially outdoors. I'm not sure how well I'd do with it, though - I'm not sure I could speak my thoughts and ideas as well as I can type them. I might try it one of these days.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm sure there is, but a formula won't help everyone... all it really comes down to is what position/height/etc. works best for YOU...

    i get inspired anywhere and everywhere... and i write anywhere i am when something hits me that needs to be written down, with whatever is at hand...

    as for comfort, an 'executive' chair with armrests that swivels and tips back easily is best on my bod... a footrest keeps my legs from swelling, since i'm at the computer for hours on end... my current one is the box my printer came in... with packing material left inside, it's sturdy enough and movable, so i can have my feet raised at the right height and position... i have a computer desk, so my pperipheral keyboard and mouse are at just the right elevation, when my chair is at the optimum height adjustment and i use a laptop, so i can angle the screen just right...

    these are all things you can do easily on your own, to arrange the best conditions for your bodily probs...
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with Maia on this. I don't think there is such a thing as a "writing place" for everyone. For some maybe, but not for all. It's amazing how the interaction between two strangers on a bus can be the missing puzzle piece to link scene 4 and scene 5. I don't wait until I get home. I pull out my phone and start writing right in front of them.
     

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