“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all. ” – Richard Wright
Carolyn Reeder, teacher and author of historical fiction for children dies at 74 – By Matt Schudel – For The Washington Post – http://goo.gl/2uG0k
One day, I began to think about how well I really took care of myself as a writer, one who spends hours slouching behind her computer desk, constantly focusing on the screen, and forgetting everything around her.
Of course, nutrition is important and so is a regular exercise program; however, I was looking more so at my habits while writing and finding remedies that I could incorporate that would contribute to the betterment of my health, during my writing hours.
During my long days and often nights of writing, I began to critically access myself from the top down.
Do I clear my thoughts enough?
For someone, like me, who often writes many hours straight through, forgetting to take any descent breaks, the thought seldom occurred to me.
I alleviated this problem by getting out of my office for a short time after two or three hours of writing, to refresh my thinking . This distraction enhanced my creativity, often giving me a new perspective on my writing.
Do I give my eyes enough breaks from the hours of staring at the bright screen?
Being so absorbed in my writing, I seldom gave my eyes any consideration other then when they screamed from dryness or ached from tiredness.
Every fifteen minutes, it is recommended to look away from the screen and stare at a distant object to change your focus. Of course, being so absorbed in my writing, how was I to remember to look away every so often.
As a reminder, I used a timer that I set for fifteen-minute intervals. After each fifteen minutes, I take a few minutes to look out my office window and focus on something farther away. I know that without an alarm reminding me, the task would be next to impossible. Those fifteen minutes would slip to an hour, probably more like two or three.
Do I sit up straight?
I discovered my posture, too, needed improvement. I couldn’t believe how many times, I caught myself slouching.
Slouching was a more difficult point to conquer. I often didn’t realize that I was sitting in that terrible hunched position. A good chair helps, but it can only do so much. I needed to be consciously aware of my posture at all times. I did get help from my family. When they see me sitting hunched over, they come and press my shoulders back as a reminder to sit straight. I also started doing weight lifting to strengthen the muscles that help keep your back and shoulders straight. What really helped was setting a book on top of my head. Yes, I know it looks ridiculous but it works! I have noticed that sitting straight makes the long hours of writing more comfortable.
Do I treat my typing hands with respect?
This was one thing I did do.
When I began to write longer hours, I invested in a proper keyboard to take away the strain on my wrists, I got a proper mouse and key pad for support, and often during my writing, I give my hands a light shake or stretch.
Do I get enough movement into my legs while I write?
Who thinks of their legs when they are absorbed in their writing?
Sitting for long periods is terrible for the legs; in fact, it has many ill effects on your health. It is claimed that extreme sedentary is worse than excessive smoking. I never knew that my long hours behind my desk was so unhealthy. Inactivity is such a problem that an organization exists that fights against it, called Researchers against Inactivity-Related Disorders (RID).
Due to the importance of regular movement, I put a stair-climber right beside my office desk. Using my trusted timer again, every half hour, I step onto my climber to exercise my legs for a short time, enhancing my circulation.
Now that I treat my body with care, it rewards me with feeling better and having a clearer mind with improved concentration. I hope, I can continue to enforce these points for the betterment of my health and my success.