Before everyone squawks at me about discussing ergonomics, let me tell you a story.
I am a web designer. I am interning/working two days a week at a web design company, for eight straight hours each day, with a half hour lunch break in between. I've gotten pains sitting at the computer before; a long day of writing will do that to you. But now at work, I've discovered an entire new world of pain.
After eight hours here's what happens:
It's a dark and stormy night, and you are working at a computer.
First you lean back a lot. The computer chair seemed really awesome at first, but now you realize there's no support for your lower back, which keeps slipping down and having unhealthy crunchy feelings with an overall sense of being bent in half.
So then you lean forward. Soon the hunching gets to you. There's no support; you feel like an old person.
You prop your chin on your hand to try and straighten up a little bit, but now you're close to the monitor, and your eyes start to ooze out of your head. And the hunchback pain isn't going away. Plus, now your elbow hurts. And your free hand starts aching at the wrist because you've been typing one-handed.
You lean back and stuff a jacket down your lower back which helps, but does not really stop the pain. Also your butt hurts. Also, now you realize your neck hurts because you're looking up at the monitor, which isn't as natural a position as you thought.
These are compromises. You do your best to get comfortable. Then, as the day wears on, the wrist and arm pains surface.
Your pinkie and wrist start twinging in sharp bursts, because the mouse has no support for that side of your hand.
Your elbows and wrists begin to have an overextended feeling. The level of the desk isn't right, and there's nowhere to rest your arms without pressing on nerves or sitting at odd angles. Bending your elbows in to type on the keyboard only adds to the pain.
By the time you get in your car after the eight hour day, everything in your body is overextended, aching, and straining when you try to do simple things like bend down or twist your car keys.
Pretty awful story, right?If you use a computer to write with, this is happening to you, even if it's happening less dramatically. Try spreading those each hours over three days. The damage is still being done. If you plan to have a career in writing, this will accumulate across books and years. Twenty years of writing may leave you with ever-present pains and threat of carpal tunnel.
There are a couple simple preventative solutions. Place your monitor just below eye level. Get an ergonomic mouse (they're pretty cheap) and wrist-rests (they're incredibly cheap.) Put your keyboard at the same level with your elbows.
Then, if you're serious about going ergonomic (and you should be! Carpal tunnel! Back pains!) you can go all the way and buy two more things: a good ergonomic computer chair with lower back, head support, and arm wrests; also get an ergonomic keyboard.
Those come in two levels--you can get a regular (QUERTY) keyboard that has sloping or rolling sides, which fit a more natural hand shape, or you can go all out, and buy the split keyboards that are placed so your elbows don't bend and cause unnatural strain.
I always hate it when people use scare tactics to try and move me into learning healthy habits, but seriously--try working at a computer for eight hours straight, and then try switching to ergonomic solutions. The difference is incredible. You'll be shocked and a little frightened. You'll realize how worth it this is.
Rant is over. Also, time to stop using second-person, do you think?
Truly and always,