- When I broke my right arm four years ago (and I am right handed - get your mind around that for awhile...), I invested in voice recognition software. I use Dragon Dictate for the Mac, and it works quite well. You can ‘train’ it to recognize your voice and even your style of writing. I am trying to get myself to write that all important first draft this way. I think in the future I will be relying more and more on dictation.
- If you have a smart phone, Dragon has a free dictation app. Just look up Dragon Dictation and download. Because it’s free it’s not as perfect as the purchased program, but it doesn’t do a bad job. What I do is to email my dictation to me and then lift the works into my manuscript. The one drawback is that you need to be connected to wifi. I’ve tried using it in the car with 3-G and it doesn’t work.
- Develop your own shorthand system and use pens like Sharpies - which are easier to write with.
- Make sure your computer, desk, keyboard and mouse are perfectly set up for you height, etc. If you don’t know what is right, there are many websites which can help. Or, as my physio-therapist said once, if you do something and it hurts, then do something else. (I marvel at people who can sit in Starbucks with their laptops on the tables, typing happily away. If I try to work with my laptop on a desk, both shoulders hurt within seconds.)
- Generously use the auto-correct feature in Word or Pages. I have hundreds, no thousands of these, most taken from my old Forkner Shorthand days. For example, when I type the word 'crc,' it automatically turns into church. 'Ppl' turns into people. Develop your own system and have fun.
- Rest and medical attention. This goes without saying.
- Of course, I’ve googled repetitive stress injuries and warm Epsom Salt baths is the new cool thing I’m trying. Who knew? But Epsom salt is cheap and baths are nice. Candles, too.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
When Writing Hurts: Some thoughts on the physical challenges of writing
By Linda Hall
I write by hand. I have the dubious distinction of having written twenty books in twenty years all by hand. I get big piles of scrap paper from the university and write with sharpie pens. Fortunately, I know shorthand, and use it. (I’m from the times of the dinosaur when journalists - which is what I started out as - needed to know shorthand. We all learned it back then.)
My process is this: I take my notebook with my colored sharpies to a coffee shop. I let my mind go and simply write - what I’m aiming for is the broad outlines of a chapter. Then I take that home and get it up onto the computer. I print that off - again on scrap paper - and take the works back to a coffee shop where I make color-coded corrections all over it. Then it’s back home to my computer.
And on and on the process goes until I have a book of 90,000 words.
But the physical aspect of so much writing by hand is taking its toll. In June I finished a manuscript and by the end of it my right hand and arm ached from shoulder to finger tip. I could barely grasp a pen. I took a couple of months off to rest it and read (by the way, I love my Kobo for aching arms. It’s as light as a feather.).
A few days ago I picked up my pen, but after just a few hours of concentrated writing, that ache was back.
This has depressed me mightily, of course. Are my writing days over? But I have so many more stories to tell. But of course, I realize that the stories are in my head, not my fingers. People with crippling disabilities have learned to write using specialized keyboards with wheel chairs. And we all know the story of Joni Eareckson Tada who taught herself to paint by clasping a paint brush between her teeth.
If you struggle with the physical pain of writing, here are some of my thoughts. They are by no means exhaustive, I would love to hear your suggestions.
Posted by Linda Hall at 9/06/2012 07:29:00 am
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