Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Home » fiction tips , Patty Smith Hall , writer's life , writing through pain » Putting Your Backside in the Chair When it's a Pain in the Tush!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 fiction tips, Patty Smith Hall, writer's life, writing through pain 21 comments
Putting Your Backside in the Chair
When it's a Pain in the Tush!
Writers are always told that one key to getting a publishing contract is to ‘put your backside in a chair and write!’ But what if you physically can’t sit for any length of time without being in a great deal of pain? What do you do then?
For the last four years, I’ve been going through a season of suffering. I won’t go into the whole boring medical explanations behind it, except to say that finding a chair that doesn’t leave me in tears after just a couple of minutes has become my holy grail. And yet I know, like others visiting today, I’ve been called to write.
So how do writers who face chronic, debilitating pain write?
Stay in Constant Prayer
Dealing with constant pain usually does one of two things to a person; either it sends you running in every direction, chasing every lead for a reason for the pain, a ‘why’ behind the agony or it drives you to your knees. I’ve done both. But one very important question I’ve put before God (besides the whole ‘why me?’) is if writing is in His plan for me. I wanted to make sure I was in God’s will and had to prepare myself if God required me give up writing or the hope of publication. It’s a dark place at times, but also one where your faith is stretched in new ways each and every second of the day.
Equally important is the need to be ready to handle the pain if He sends confirmation to continue writing. Working through chronic pain or illness takes a inhuman toughness only God can give. So I’ve turned even more to His Word for encouragement. Sticky notes on my computer with scriptures--my favorites are 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Romans 8:28.
Finding a way to write
Okay, you’re prayed up, know that God wants to you write, even got your scriptures to encourage you--now what? How do you get your ‘backside in a chair’ when it’s a pain in the tush?
1) Standing desk and ergonomic rug
One of my favorite people (and best selling novelist!) Camy Tang came up with a wonderful idea to deal with her chronic back issues. At her desk, she keeps a box that she places on her desktop when she feels the need to stand. It’s the perfect height for her computer and allows her to continue working while giving her a chance to stand and stretch. If you have an island in your kitchen, that’s also a great place to work without having to sit. If you want something a little more decorative, there are many standing desks available on Amazon, starting for as little as $50.
Another important item that works wonders is an ergonomic rug. These are designed to help relieve fatigue on the lower extremities and is well worth the price (which can range anywhere from $30 to well into the hundreds.) I’d suggest you try it out first--yes, you may look crazy, standing on a rug in the middle of Bed, Bath and Beyond but better to make sure it’s the right rug for you than waste money.
1) Alphasmart word processor
You’re sitting at your desk or in your favorite chair, ready to write and it’s just not comfortable. You fidget for a few minutes, hoping to find that perfect position but it just isn’t happening. Maybe the chair upstairs would work but that means dragging your computer up a flight of steps and you’re not even sure you can make it without falling down. That’s where an Alphasmart can help. Weighing under a pound, this portable word processor has eight individual files which can save multiple chapters and be downloaded into Word with just the press of a button. And you don’t have to worry about tripping over cables--four AA batteries is all you need to keep writing for months at a time.
1) Egg Timer
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I get writing, time just slips away from me. I’ll look up and two hours would have gone by. Good for my book. Not at all good for my back. So now I keep an egg timer on my desk and set it for 35 minutes. When that bell goes off, I stand up and move. Take a bathroom break. Fold a dryer full of clothes. Anything to get moving. Then I go back to my desk and reset my timer. I may not write as much but I’m not in as much pain either.
1) Digital pen
The pain is so bad, you can’t even sit up. So now that you’re flat on your back, what do you do? Consider a digital pen. A bit thicker than a standard pen, it has the capability to transfer your writing into Word files while also serving as a recording. It’s not for everyone, and it’s expensive starting at $119 (plus the specialized notebooks.) So once again, try it before you buy it.
5) Pen and paper
Old fashioned, yes, but when you’re flat on your back and desperate to write, it’s an easy alternative. Not much of an added expense - I can buy my favorite pens and writing tablet for under $5. With the back-to-school sales beginning, you can stock up on notebooks and pens for later. Yes, your writing will still need to be typed into the computer but writing freestyle is very liberating. I’ve written the first draft of my last four books like this. It’s slower, but still gets the job done.
Hearts in Hiding
Engineer Edie Michaels loves her life—she has a good job, close friends, even a chance at romance with former soldier Beau Daniels. But she could lose everything if her secret comes out that she's the German daughter of a devoted Nazi. When her father sends spies to force her loyalty, everything Edie values is at risk.
Time in a Nazi POW camp changed army medic Beau Daniels. When he discovers a letter of Edie's written in German, he can't help his suspicions. Is she truly the woman he's started to love? Or has she been the enemy all along? With Nazis on Edie's trail, the pair must fight for truth, for survival—and for love.