I am currently hard at work on my memoir. It has been slow going for the past year–partly from good old-fashioned procrastination, but mostly because it hurts to write. Not the emotional kind of hurting (although there definitely is that!), but the physical, hands cramping, wrist and thumb feel like they’re on fire type of pain. After several doctor’s appointments, my general practitioner thinks I have some radial nerve damage from my day job (I work at a psychiatric hospital and she thinks the pain is from the physical management we have to do). But, whatever the cause, I have had several days where I’ve sat down to write and had to stop because my hands hurt too much to hold a pen or press a key on the keyboard. I could get small bits of relief from wrapping a heating pad around my hands and wearing a neoprene brace, but those are temporary solutions and neither is much help when I have a looming deadline.
Because not working and not writing are not options, I had to find other solutions. My first solution was switching from predominately using a laptop to a desktop computer with an ergonomic keyboard (see below).
I went to several stores and “typed” on the tester keyboards before settling on the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000. It took a little while to adjust to the different key placement, and I am still slower on it than on a traditional keyboard. It’s also much larger than my laptop keyboard, and the spacebar is less sensitive than the other keys, but I can use it for longer (around a half hour) before my hands start to cramp too badly.
Still, a half hour is not long enough when I have to have half the memoir completed for my first packet of this MFA independent study, so I had to get creative. That’s when I stumbled upon these little gems: Smoko’s USB Handwarmers.
Meant for people who work in cold office environments, the handwarmers are small heaters that wrap around your hands and plug into your computer’s USB ports. I like fun, toy-like office supplies (as evidenced by Rocket and Groot above!) so these are perfect! When they’re on, my hands are free to type without restraint (I am wearing them as I type this post, for example) and the constant heat makes for a pain-free writing experience. I may have to dedicate my memoir to Smoko!
What about you guys? What solutions have you found for writing pain?