Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Keep Fit for Writers - a guest post by Alexandra from Chicklish


It came to my realization recently that all those pages writers spend ages creating – and then editing, keeps their eyes pinned to something evolution hadn’t really planned into genetics: The computer screen. Writers and office workers in general, can spend too long hunched over a keyboard, sitting on a chair not attending to their posture or remembering that it’s good to get up and stretch from time to time. It’s time to talk about keep fit for writers.

Workrave is a free software product that can help you by reminding you to take a break. You can set it as you wish to prompt you to take short breaks every so often – say 20 seconds every 15 minutes, which is enough time to stretch and remember life away from the computer. You can set ‘coffee breaks’ where you are reminded to take 10 minutes break and remove yourself from any temptation to touch the keyboard. During the coffee breaks it suggests some short exercises for the first minute or so, then it’s up to you.

Most people reading this will start looking away now. They feel ok, what's in this for them? Right? So what should a writer know about how their body is affected by long periods of computer use? Today let’s start with your eyes:

Eyes – they weren’t really created to stare at a screen for such long periods. Simple exercises such as looking at a long distance object out the window then immediately to a short distance object in your office is a good work out for them. Another that Workrave suggest is slowly inching your way around the outside frame of your computer monitor, giving the eye muscles a short work out.

Dim your screen so that the glare is minimized and consider changing the colour of your manuscript document from white to a pastel colour. This can soften the view. Monitor how much you blink one day. Do you stare a lot at the screen in between blinking? Do you spend ten minutes glued to one sentence that you can’t get right? Not blinking reduces the tears in your eyes – and if you already have any tendency towards dry eyes you may find trying ‘blinkers’ for a while a good start to a new blinking habit. You add a ‘blinker’ to the corner of your screen and blink when it does. Make sure you drink a lot of fluids and take care of your eyes if they continue to be dry – using eye drops – provided they are always (no exception) preservative free drops can be done by anyone at any time. If you find computers affect your eyes very badly you may want to search for information on more tips, and one great resource is this site, just go there and type in ‘computer’ in the search box.


Alexandra reviews for Chicklish, the teen books website, works in financial services and writes in her spare time. She has zero tolerance for slouching and bad posture in front of the computer...

7 comments:

Helen Black said...

It's amazing how little care we acttually take isn't it?
Will try harder....
HB x

Caroline Green said...

Yes, I'm VERY bad at this and often end up with sore, dry eyes and a stiff neck as a consequence!
Many thanks for these tips, Alexandra.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, Alexandra, for reminding me about this stuff. If I spend too long at the computer (particularly doing unproductive things) I tend to feel rotten until I've gone for a walk and reconnected to the real world.
Susiex

Debs Riccio said...

These are such simple precautions aren't they? I always (after 6 hours 'at it') blame my age or the weather if I get up feeling like sh*te. But where's mention of the dreaded writer's arse - or is this incurable and unpreventable?!

badas2010 said...

I recently posted on my blog in a similar vein, 'Keep at it, but .....', but I don't think anyone saw it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks all (especially for trying harder!). I can recommend eye drops to anyone who does suffer a bit in that direction. The workrave is really good, even if you don't take all the regular breaks I think it can give that nudge to 'think of self' from time to time - anything is a start. Our bodies are a one-time thing.

Alexandra

Luisa Plaja said...

This is a brilliant and helpful post and I'm bookmarking it for future reference. Thank you!