There have been times when I had to sleep with my right wrist bandaged in “pain pads” and a tensor—a reminder of how hard on the body working at a computer can be. When I am in full work mode, I try to remember to set a timer to ring every half-hour: a reminder to get up and go through a series of exercises intended to relieve the neck, back and wrists.

But like most good intentions, I don’t always follow through.

A friend noted that her son, a musician, had to take university courses on ergonomic problems relative to musicians. Degree programs for writers should do the same.

There was a point years back when I was in so much pain I didn’t think I’d be able to continue writing. I tried many “solutions” over the years: an expensive and very good chair, wrist supports, wrist bandages, an ergonomic mouse, computer stands, document holders and a foot rest in addition to acupuncture, chiropractic and massage. I even looked into dictation software.

Most of these have helped, but I finally realized that what worked best for me was to stretch out on a bed (or couch and footstool) with my laptop computer on my lap and the mouse on a thick book beside me. When I need to look at marked-up manuscript pages, I prop them on my computer screen so that I don’t have to turn my head to see them. But the most important thing is to remember to set a timer—and it’s best put in another room so that I have to get up to turn it off.

I don’t often sit at my desk to work, but when I do I make sure that I’m sitting properly in my chair and that the computer is at eye level. If I don’t, I have learned that I will suffer, and rather badly.

Louise La Valliere

Accomplished yesterday: ordered a number of books related to my current area of research (17th century theatre); made bookings related to a trip to NY; posted to my research blog (and here); looked over my Sandra Gulland Inc. tax reports; began to organize my To Do lists, which include preparing for a library reading in a few days, a festival interview and CBC recording next week; sent off a photo and release form for an anthology I’m part of; rescheduled writer’s group meeting; responded to an email from someone whose grandmother owns a portrait of Louise de la Vallière (subject of my research blog); printed out the manuscript of a novel written by a friend—which I will begin reading today.

You will notice in all this that although everything is writing-related, Not One Thing has to do with actually writing. Today I have over 20 emails from readers that need to be answered (a backlog from being away). Keeping up is hard to do!