What A Relief
Recently, while typing away on my new work-in-progress, I was forced to realize just how much the last year of full-time writing has affected my body. My already-terrible posture has worsened exponentially every month, it seems. I had no idea it was possible for the body to seize up and get painful so fast!
Before taking the plunge to write full-time, I owned a custom bakery. I created cakes like those ones you see on tv: the ones shaped like buildings or purses or characters. I specialized in realistic flowers crafted from sugar paste. The bakery was a one-woman operation. I did everything from shopping for supplies (50 pound bags of flour and sugar, 30 pound buckets of fondant icing, boxes of eggs...all loaded and unloaded by yours truly) to the baking, dishwashing, floor mopping, deliveries... So it's not like I wasn't using my body on a daily basis.
But none of that apparently compared to the damage done by sitting on a hard dining chair, typing and researching for at least eight hours a day (while squinting because your eyes are definitely not what they used to be). The muscles of my arms, back, abdomen seemed to be in a daily struggle against each other. Last month, my body parts finally came to one agreement and regretted to inform me that "Unfortunately, this Mac setup is not sustainable. Not if I ever wanted to write another book.
So before I started that next draft, I got to work transforming our guest room and turning it into a comfortable office. Since there's a murphy bed in there, the room can easily transform back to a guest room when needed. I chose calm colors and painted the room out, set up an old desk and some cute accessories, and got back to writing. My husband did insist on finding me a new, ergonomic chair, and I loved that. But the thing about desk chairs is you can't sit back and enjoy the features when you're actively typing. It was so frustrating that my back and arms and neck were still not happy.
It seemed like the pain just chose different spots each day: left lower back, right shoulder blade, right side neck, left rib. At one point, I thought maybe I was developing some rare autoimmune disease. One day I was holding myself at another weird angle, trying to keep working through today's relocated pain, when I was struck by a mind-blowing idea. I called my husband and said, "I was just thinking...wouldn't it be great if they made a keyboard that was, like, split? If they could split it right down the middle, that would be great. I could sit back in my ergonomic chair and rest my arms on these ergonomic arm rests and just ergonomically type forever... Sure wish they made something like that...Oh, maybe I invented something! I'm gonna be a millionaire!"
One amazon search later and those hopes were dashed. I shouldn't have gotten carried away, because then I could have been so happy when the search results populated, offering a wide assortment of split keyboards, already manufactured and waiting at my closest Amazon distribution center! I got over it quickly, though, as I narrowed my choices down and finally settled on this one. It works with a MacBook, and setup was as easy as plugging it in to the USB port. I also sprang for the tenting kit. This allows you to set the two sides at the most comfortable position for your wrists. Once I got it all set up (with wires as hidden or corralled as possible--I hate cords!), I sat back against the cushy back support of the chair, rested my arms on the armrests, and let my fingers settle naturally on the two separate halves of the keyboard. Perfect! The past few days of drafting have been almost pain-free.
If you are a writer or someone who works a lot on the computer, I cannot recommend these (or something like them) enough. It might feel silly or a little indulgent, but I'm finally learning that taking care of my body doesn't only mean eating right and exercising. Little things like this improve your life both when you are using them and when you aren't. Reaching your word goal count for the day shouldn't mean spending the evening in pain.
I hope this helps someone!
March 29th, 2020