…that they will rarely hear until too late.
I started on this train of thought after reading Sean Williams’ blog entry here, with all the writers commiserating, including myself.
If you are intending to be a professional writer – or in fact, are expecting to spend a great deal of time at a keyboard in your professional life (or gaming life!) – give a thought to RSI: Repetitive Stress Injury.
Because the odds are ten to one it will creep up on you and leave you partially crippled.
So think about it at the beginning of your career.
What can you do? Google around and see what works for other people, but expect to spend some serious money. Look on that as investment in a healthy future. In the long term it will cost you less than doctor fees, surgery, physiotherapy, time off work, medication, mental stress and worry – and the pain…
Realise this first: you are going to spend a lot of time at a desk. Yet all non-adjustable furniture is built to a average standard, and few people are actually standard. Especially women – men design and build most furniture and they build to the specifications for men. Ever walked into a bathroom and found that you can only see half your face because you’re not as tall as the man who installed the mirror? That’s the kind of thing I mean.
Secondly, desk specifications are often to old industry standards – and don’t factor in the height of a keyboard!
Until I went to IKEA and bought one of their more expensive desks that I could adjust to my diminutive height (5′ 2″), I never in my adult life had sat at a table or desk that was right for me.
Get a table large enough. You can’t work properly if you don’t have room for all the things you need within reach.
If you really, really can’t afford a new desk, then think of going to a lumber yard and buying a piece of flat heavy quality board, large enough for your chair and feet, small enough to fit at and under your desk, and of sufficient height to make the table top height right for you. Conversely, if the desk is too low for you, consider a board to place over the desk top to make it higher, or solid pieces to place under the legs. The important thing is: do not use a desk that is wrong for you.
Get an adjustable chair that fits you. If the rest of the family complains, tell them to go get their own.
Use a large adjustable monitor screen. A laptop screen on a desk is not going to put your eyes at the correct level. If you can’t afford one, then place the laptop on a stack of books to the right eye level, and use a detachable keyboard.
Which you must anyway, because you are going to get yourself an ergonomic keyboard. This is the most important buy, and should be the first thing you get. Different people will prefer different types, so try them out if you can. Honestly, this alone can make a huge difference.
Another thing to remember:
Take frequent breaks, even if it is only to lean back in your chair, and wriggle your feet and fingers.
If you have other solutions and suggestions, please add them in the comments section. If you are a writer with this problem, tell us in the comments. And spread the link around. Let’s get the word out there to the people who are not yet troubled by this, but who are in danger…