For the past 6 years, I’ve drafted an average of 2 novels a year; plus edits and short stories. Throughout two degrees, my first job, moving house and health issues I managed to keep on top of my writing goals.
In 2014, I wrote 150,000 words of new fiction. In 2015, I wrote 100,000.
In the 7 months of 2016 so far, I’ve written 20,000 words. Part of that is due to life events: we’re still getting into the swing of new jobs, still unpacking boxes from our house move, attended job interviews, and had a wedding/honeymoon to organise.
But a key change this year has been physical pain. I began experiencing a lot of pain in my lower arms, back and neck around March and it’s been slowing my progress more than I’d like.
I’ve never had great posture, so these pains weren’t all new. But as soon as they became a barrier to my writing, I realised I should do something about them.
I’ve had an assessment at work, and they’ve agreed to get a special chair and keyboard for me. The assessor even said if it gets much worse, he’d recommend my day-job company get me a speech-to-text program. I use an ergonomic mouse both at home and at work. I’ve begun strength training to give my arms a fighting chance, and as I’m working out to fix that anyway, I’ve been including posture/back/neck/core exercises too.
Noticing the Impact
When neck and back pain affects my sleep, and my shoulder-wrist pain slows any typing – it doesn’t matter what stage of writing I’m in; physical health is a real barrier to getting those words down.
But I haven’t stopped.
I’ve been lying down to read, hand-writing notes in my lunch break to type up later, and focusing more of planning and editing instead of drafting large amounts of new text. I’m finding ways to keep that momentum going and to make progress.
Amidst that, my laptop keyboard decided to get ill. Only certain letters work, some letters type two different letters, and with Insert or Alt supposedly pressed (not physically) every space or enter pastes a screenshot into my novel document…
So my fast-draft of Skeletal is kind of on-hold. I’m trying to edit The Felled Gods and beta-read for a friend; but equally, I’m trying to backup my 1TB harddrive onto 8GB USB sticks and not change too many files to move when they come to collect my laptop for repair.
Sometimes, writing is hard. Every word is blood trapped in a stone.
And other times, something actually stands in our way. Then it’s my duty find a way through.