The Journal: Ten Tips for Healthy Writing

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Ten Tips for Healthy Writing
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” Benjamin Brewster

Wow, does THAT ever pertain to writing!

“‘To write’ is an active verb. Thinking is not writing. Writing is putting words on paper.” Roberta Jean Bryant’s first law of Writing from her book Anybody Can Write

In writing, “practice” also is putting words on paper.

Topic: Ten Tips for Healthy Writing

In the first item in “Of Interest” today, Debbie Burke lists “Ten Tips from a Chiropractor for Writers.” They were not what I expected or hoped to pass along to you, so I decided to write a list of my own.

In all my years of writing poetry, essays, articles and fiction, I’ve never suffered carpal tunnel syndrome or any of the other ailments that can be caused by that activity. Here’s how:

1. Invest in a good chair. Full stop.

2. The seat of your chair should be adjustable for height and slope so that you can sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor as you write. You should feel no pressure in your legs, back, shoulders or glutes.

3. A good lumbar support is also necessary, and check your position in your chair from time to time to be sure you’re taking advantage of that support. Again, you should feel no pressure in your lower back, legs or glutes.

4. Adjustable armrests are essential, both laterally and for height. Position them to support your forearms and wrists comfortably as you’re writing. If you’re typing, only your fingers should move. If you notice your forearms, wrists or hands at all while you’re typing, you’re in the wrong position.

5. Write on a height-adjustable surface (like a drafting table), or don’t be afraid to trim the furniture. My ideal writing surface is flat (not sloped) and 27″ above the floor. Of course, your ideal probably will vary. I have cut an inch or two off various wooden desks and tables to bring them to that exact height.

6. If you write standing up, come up with a way to support your forearms and wrists as you write. For example, if you’re standing in front of an old chest of drawers with your laptop on top, you might open the top drawer and add a pillow or something to support your forearms. Whatever works.

7. Look straight ahead as you write. There should be no strain in your neck or shoulders. If you stretch when you first stand up for a break, you’re probably sitting with poor posture in your shoulders, neck, and/or back.

Both my business and writing computers are laptops, but I have a large, separate monitor for each one. Extended to its full height, my business monitor still wasn’t quite high enough. At first I set it up on a couple of short pieces of 2×4 to raise it to the right height, but that wasn’t the most attractive or stable arrangement. Later I bought a narrow monitor stand. Again, whatever it takes.

8. Take a break. Get up and move around every hour or so even if you only walk ten feet away and ten feet back. Longer breaks are fine too.

9. If you write in any non-supported position either occasionally or all the time (e.g., in a chair or on a couch or outside on a stump with your laptop supported on your legs), take a break more often, like two or three times every hour. Your future self will thank you for it.

10. Set aside time for physical activity. I hate the word “exercise.” Physical activity should be pleasurable, not forced. It should be for enjoyment, not a workout for its own sake.

I recommend walking. Walking is unique in that it’s among the easiest and most beneficial activities. But I don’t recommend walking on a treadmill or a set course (unless you enjoy that). I recommend walking strictly for pleasure for a minimum amount of time.

If you can think of any other tips to help maintain your health as you engage in a sedentary occupation, please share them in the comments.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Ten Tips from a Chiropractor for Writers” at Linked in case you might find it useful. It wasn’t what I expected or hoped for.

See “Is It Too Late to Start Writing?” at

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.