Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. Today, she offers suggestions on how to write when you are in pain. She will also give a copy of her latest book to someone, chosen at random, from those who leaves a comment.
Writers are always told that one key to getting a publishing contract is to ‘put your backside in a chair and write!’ But what if you physically can’t sit for any length of time without being in a great deal of pain? What do you do then?
So how do writers who face chronic, debilitating pain write?
1) Standing desk and ergonomic rug
One of my favorite people (and best-selling novelist!) Camy Tang came up with a wonderful idea to deal with her chronic back issues. At her desk, she keeps a box that she places on her desktop when she feels the need to stand. It’s the perfect height for her computer and allows her to continue working while giving her a chance to stand and stretch. If you have an island in your kitchen, that’s also a great place to work without having to sit. If you want something a little more decorative, there are many standing desks available on Amazon, starting for as little as $50.
Another important item that works wonders is an ergonomic rug. These are designed to help relieve fatigue on the lower extremities and is well worth the price (which can range anywhere from $30 to well into the hundreds.) I’d suggest you try it out first–yes, you may look crazy, standing on a rug in the middle of Bed, Bath and Beyond but better to make sure it’s the right rug for you than waste money.
2) Alphasmart word processor
You’re sitting at your desk or in your favorite chair, ready to write and it’s just not comfortable. You fidget for a few minutes, hoping to find that perfect position but it just isn’t happening. Maybe the chair upstairs would work but that means dragging your computer up a flight of steps and you’re not even sure you can make it without falling down. That’s where an Alphasmart can help. Weighing under a pound, this portable word processor has eight individual files which can save multiple chapters and be downloaded into Word with just the press of a button. And you don’t have to worry about tripping over cables–four AA batteries is all you need to keep writing for months at a time.
3) Egg Timer
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I get writing, time just slips away from me. I’ll look up and two hours would have gone by. Good for my book. Not at all good for my back. So now I keep an egg timer on my desk and set it for 35 minutes. When that bell goes off, I stand up and move. Take a bathroom break. Fold a dryer full of clothes. Anything to get moving. Then I go back to my desk and reset my timer. I may not write as much but I’m not in as much pain either.
4) Digital pen
The pain is so bad, you can’t even sit up. So now that you’re flat on your back, what do you do? Consider a digital pen. A bit thicker than a standard pen, it has the capability to transfer your writing into Word files while also serving as a recording. It’s not for everyone, and it’s expensive starting at $119 (plus the specialized notebooks.) So once again, try it before you buy it.
5) Pen and paper
Old fashioned, yes, but when you’re flat on your back and desperate to write, it’s an easy alternative. Not much of an added expense – I can buy my favorite pens and writing tablet for under $5. With the back-to-school sales beginning, you can stock up on notebooks and pens for later. Yes, your writing will still need to be typed into the computer (consider purchasing Dragon Naturally Speaking—a wonderful tool for any writer!) but writing freestyle is very liberating. I’ve written the first draft of my last four books like this. It’s slower, but still gets the job done.
JIM: Well, she has taken away some excuses. And she has offered a lot of good ideas for those of us who find it difficult to sit at the computer for long periods. Please leave a comment – offer your suggestions for how to deal with pain. She’s giving away a copy of one of her books to someone who leaves a comment. Her latest book, New Hope Sweethearts, released this month. Check out all of her books on Amazon.