Writing is a physically demanding activity. Sitting on a chair, staring at the screen, and tapping on a keyboard can all lead to back, neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist pain. And if you’re writing a book, you can spend lengthy periods of time bent over your computer and increasing the risk of adding more damage to your body.
Ergonomics addresses how you should position yourself when writing a book so you maximize productivity, minimize physical discomfort, and prevent damage to your body. Unfortunately, writers rarely take the issue of ergonomics into account despite how critical it is. Not only is it a necessary consideration for the quality of one’s work, but it’s also crucial to the health of their bodies. The right posture, movement, and alignment allows authors to write for longer periods of time without attracting any noteworthy ailments.
As a writer who spends the majority of their day thinking about the storytelling process, it is easy to see why the issue of ergonomics might prove perplexing. In truth, though, maintaining the appropriate position while writing a book isn’t particularly difficult. Here are a few ergonomic tips to consider:
Be sure to position your computer correctly in relation to your body. The idea here is to ensure that your body and eyes are vertically in line with the center of your computer. The computer should be positioned directly in front of you. Avoid slumping or leaning forward unnecessarily. It is also important to avoid strenuous postures. Maintain positioning that allows you to read the screen and use the keyboard even while remaining in a relaxed state.
Don’t skimp on your chair as you’ll probably spend most of your time there when writing a book. Invest on a high-quality chair that provides a cushioned seat, excellent support for your lower back, and the ability to adjust the height of the seat and the position of the backrest. For proper back posture, you should be able to recline your chair’s backrest to an angle of 110 degrees – avoid chairs with a backrest held at a 90-degree angle. Additionally, your chair must be low enough for your feet to sit flat on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees. If your chair is too tall, you can just as easily use a foot rest.
More than merely positioning your computer with your body aligned with its center, your eyes must be aligned with the top of the screen. Also, the distance from the screen matters. Try this exercise; lean back in your chair (reclined at 110 degrees) and stretch one arm out horizontally. If you are properly positioned, then your middle finger should almost touch the center of the screen. If you cannot view the content of your screen properly from this distance, change the size of the text.
The weight of your arms must always be supported; otherwise, you will exert unnecessary stress upon your neck and shoulders. In addition, your wrist should remain straight, with your forearms tilting down to touch the keyboard and your elbows forming a 90-degree angle. Consider using a wrist rest: a rectangular, soft pad you place in front of your keyboard.
Take Frequent Breaks
Writing a book can put you in a zone. It is easy to lose oneself in the climax of a scene or development of a conversation. However, breaks are crucial. Take a walk. Do a few chores in between writing sessions. Get a glass of water. Find a reason to stand up and stretch your body every once in a while. Even if you buy the best ergonomic furniture on the market and you keep your alignment and posture right, it is never healthy to spend too much time sitting.
If you want to write professionally and you expect to spend lengthy periods of time writing a book, where possible, make an effort to invest in an ergonomically designed writing space. With the right furniture and computer hardware, you can keep pain relievers and heat wrappers away.