Desk Ergonomics -- Esri Rose
Mark Twain did a lot of his writing in his bed. My guess is that a little writing in bed messed up his back, and then he had to write in bed.
The more time you spend writing, the more important it is that your workspace works with your body, not against it. Here are the basics, keeping in mind that I’m not a doctor and have only my own experience (and whatever I’ve read) to qualify me for giving advice.
1) Don’t look down. Your computer monitor should be lined up with your line of sight when you’re sitting up tall. My laptop sits on a couple of phone books, with a separate keyboard plugged in.
2) Your elbows should bend at a nice right angle when you’re typing, and these same elbows should be at your sides. Your wrists shouldn’t be resting on anything but thin air.
3) Feet on the floor, and I mean all of your feet, not just the toes. Try not to cross your legs while you type. Oy, the things that does to your back.
4) Sit up tall. If you’re a healthy person, you should be able to sit without your back touching the chair, and it’s good to do that as much as possible. For those times when you’re pooped, a chair that supports your lower back is nice, as is a chair seat that tilts slightly forward.
Those are the basics. I own a laptop because I enjoy an occasional change of scene, but I try not to do too much work away from my ideal setting. If I'm on the couch, I put a lap desk under my laptop, which raises it, and I make sure my lower back is supported. When I brainstorm by writing longhand in a notebook, I try to do it at a fairly high table, like the kitchen table. When writing at a table, keep both feet flat on the floor, and bend more from the waist than the neck.
One last note: if you’re right-handed, consider mousing with your left hand. Way back when, I got tendinitis in my right wrist. My response was to start opening doors and using a computer mouse with my left hand. The tendinitis cleared up. You can buy a lefty mouse or reprogram your existing mouse to be left-handed. (PC users, go to Start menu, Control Panel, Mouse.) It took about a week to get used to the switch, and if I’m at someone else’s computer, my right-handed mousing skills are still flawless.
Esri Rose writes contemporary romantic-suspense novels featuring Tolkien-style elves. Her first book, Bound to Love Her, was a May 2008 release. The second in the series, Stolen Magic, will be available May 2009. You can visit her at ElvesAmongUs.com.