Thursday, March 20, 2014

Manic/Zombie Ponderings VS Productivity (and how to avoid the former)

By Kate Boorman


I’ve had a headache for approximately ten days. I say approximately because although it was pretty consistently brain-in-blender for the first five, it has, in the last five, alternated between mostly-stabbing and barely there. But there. Definitely there.

So, I was pondering the cause and trying not to leap to the Worst Possible Scenario (yes, I’m talking about the zombie-virus) and I ran through the gamut of possibilities. Was it too much caffeine: should I cut out the morning Americano? Hydration: drink more water? (I can hear the resounding YES from the masses and won’t launch into my tirade against the 8-10 glasses/day hard–and-fast rule because BORING and you will throw rocks). Was it tannins: must I cut out red wine (please no)? Was it sleep position: should I change my pillow? Flip my mattress? Get a mouth guard for grinding my teeth at night?

My manic ponderings went on for some time but I am happy to report I finally traced the source, and I’m sharing it with you in the interests of WRITERLY HEALTH AND PRODUCTIVITY.

The source of my headache was my writing desk. Or, more specifically, my chair in relation to my desk.

To look at my lovely little writing space—even to sit at my writing space—all seems legit. It took me some time to come to this conclusion because I’ve been sitting at that desk for 2.5 months without noticing anything amiss. But when I realized my headache was musculature in origin, and when I figured out just which muscles were under duress, I’ve realized my chair is, like, a fraction of an inch too low in relation to my desk.

The difference is minute. But I have been hunching my shoulders just the tiniest amount in order to place my hands on my keyboard, which means I’ve been tensing the muscles under my shoulder blades for hours at a time. And my muscles were fatiguing the smallest amount over a long period of time. And finally, FINALLY, my brain is registering my muscles’ discontent. Shock and awe-styles.

If I can boss you around just a bit: take a minute, right now, to look at the way you’re sitting. Take a quick inventory of your neck, shoulders, arms. Think about your shoulder blades and then think down into the small of your back.

Are you relaxed? Are you holding tension anywhere? Chances are, OF COURSE. Nobody but 24 hr yogis make it through the day without tensing some part of the body subconsciously. This is particularly true when we are concentrating hard on something. (Hi WRITING!) We writers spend an unholy percentage of our lives sitting, engrossed in our own little worlds, and if we are sitting in positions that are not conducive to muscle health, then we are doing ourselves a serious disservice.

 So if I can boss you around just a bit more: be mindful of your writing posture, take time to ensure your writing space is comfortable and muscle-stress-free.

It might be the difference between tens days of kicking manuscript ass and ten days of fretting about going down in history as the host of the zombiepocalypse.



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