Writing with an injury

So this week I was going to post another 20books Vegas update. Failing that, maybe a marketing post. Or something festive.

But events have overtaken me.

I’ve injured a tendon in my upper right arm.

I’m not entirely sure how I did it, but I imagine it was a combination of typing about 120k words in 6 weeks, combined with moving house and doing lots of lifting.

I’m currently typing this, and it hurts. I shouldn’t be typing. And this post will be short as a result: I need to rest.

The good news is this has forced me to go back to dictation. Like lots of writers, it’s injury which finally forced me to take it seriously.

Luckily, my injury isn’t serious. I’ll miss out on writing some stories over the Christmas break (unless I can find a quiet spot for dictation: unlikely). But it’s not the end of the world. I will heal.

But it’s made me realize I need to look after my body. Writing may seem like a low-risk profession, but it actually carries a high risk of injury or illness.

There’s all those hours getting butt in chair (something I’m a proponent of), and the impact that has on your back.

There’s the frantic typing, and the impact on hands, wrists and arms.

And there’s the sedentary nature of the job, and the effect that has on weight gain and general fitness.

On Tuesday I had to write a 6,000 word article for a freelance client. I use Google docs when working for this client, so it was an easy switch to activate the dictation function in that app on my phone.

(Sorry, had to break for a bit there. Ouch.)

It was fast. I wrote 3,000 words in an hour and a half, which is way faster than I normally manage for nonfiction.

Maybe it’ll boost my fiction too, who knows?

And dictating was actually really pleasant. Instead of sitting at my desk, I sat in a comfy chair in my living room, with my cat on my lap and the fire lit.

Picture this scene, but with my phone in my hand instead of a book.

reading with a cat in front of a sorting fire


The proof of the pudding will be in the editing. I know it will be tougher; the punctuation is all over the place, for starters. But editing doesn’t involve the same repetitive motion as typing, so I’m hoping it won’t be so painful.

(I just had to take another break. I’m in a busy coffee shop so don’t have the option of dictating right now).

I’m going to stop now. I don’t want to undo the healing that’s happened so far.

But I hope you can learn from this post before you end up injuring yourself writing too. Try dictation. Try everything you can to give your body a rest.

Maybe don’t write 120k words in 6 weeks.

And in the meantime, have a wonderful festive break, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. If Santa is your thing, I hope he’s good to you!

Or if you’re a Jedi, enjoy the new Star Wars film. I know I will.

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