Why You Need this Book
You know this scenario . . .
You’re writing and The Muse is smiling down at you. You’re in the groove, and you haven’t moved except to type (which you’re not even aware of) in who knows how long.
You’re following your bliss. But, you probably haven’t blinked in ages. And a concern for butt-spread doesn’t stack up against what your character just did in chapter five.
Writing is something you have to do. And the idea is to feel great while doing it, for as long as possible.
So it’s important to stay healthy in the particular ways you need to as a writer.
Why listen to what I have to say?
I’ve been freelancing and working for myself all my adult life (and actually before—I sold art and portraits in high school). I’m a widely published illustrator, author (both traditionally and self-published), and writer. My office/studio has always been in my home.
I’m also a bona fide workaholic. But staying healthy has always been on my to-do list.
I know how to work in the same place I live. And I know how to do it well.
What you will learn
Over the years I learned to optimize my workspace, my time, my health, and my productivity while sitting at a computer or drawing table. In addition, I have two advanced-degree black belts and this involves studying and understanding human body mechanics.
There are tips and insights in this book you will only get from a veteran freelancer like me, who has always been determined to stay out of the mainstream workplace and live a healthy lifestyle.
Don’t Skip the Quotes
Peppered throughout this book are great quotes from remarkable authors and writers. Don’t miss out on the laughs, wisdom, and inspiration.
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If you want to keep writing and feel great while doing it, read on . . .
In the Blink of an Eye
Just how important are your eyes? Braille is great and all, but you’re a writer dammit, and you want to be able to read the words as you type your books.
You want to do this until you painlessly drop dead of extreme old age, with a smile on your lips, because you drained every last drop of happy juice out of life.
The first thing you need to do to keep your eyes healthy is:
Write, BLINK, on a sticky note and attach it to your computer, laptop, or whatever device you write on.
The number one reason for eye irritation, according to my own easy-on-the-eyes eye doctor, is not blinking enough.
Aside from eye irritation, bloodshot eyes just aren’t that attractive unless you’re a vampire.
Vision Source, a network of private practice optometrists, says the average adult blinks between ten and twenty times per minute. And, “On average we only blink three to eight times per minute when reading, watching TV, listening to a podcast, working on a computer, or another activity that requires intense focus. That’s roughly 60 percent less than our normal rate of blinking!”
Ha! They think watching TV requires intense focus? We writers are in a category all by ourselves when it comes to not blinking for ages.
So, it’s crucial to remember to blink. You don’t want your tears to dry up from staring at a screen for hours lost in your latest manuscript, especially over the long term.
The sticky note will be there, in your face, reminding you to keep those corneas lubricated.
Take the Long View
So what happens when 90% of the time you are focusing on what’s right in front of your nose (typing on a computer, researching on the Internet, reading books, watching movies, and almost everything you do INdoors)?
Your eye muscles atrophy. They lose the flexibility to switch focus from near to far, far to near, because they don’t get the exercise.
At least once per writing session, walk outside (or look out a window if you must) and gaze into the distance. Focus on what is farthest away. See if you can make out tiny trees and bushes on the horizon. If you’re in a city or urban environment, notice how lovely the clouds are.
Do this EVERY DAY.
Give It a Rest
Limit screen time when you’re not writing.
There is actually an official term for too much screen time: Computer Vision Syndrome, popularly known as digital eye strain.
Think about it: How much time do you spend glued to your devices (cell phone, tablet, laptop, computer, TV)?
You may have a regular job—condolences if you do—where screen time is mandatory in your work.
So where can you make cuts, since the point is to hoard your screen time for writing? That is, assuming you’re writing on a computer—if you’re anachronistically using a typewriter you’re off the hook on this point.
Well, first off, admit you’re an addict. Because as far as I can tell, there isn’t a person alive today who doesn’t have an intimate relationship with a cell phone. Then, instead of going from one device to another for your next fix, you can:
• Read an actual book—not an ebook on a screen.
• Listen to audiobooks or podcasts with a headset (relax and close your eyes if possible).
• Go for a walk and hear leaves rustle.
• Repot the plant you’ve neglected.
• Call a friend (use a headset).
• Make notes for your book with pen and paper.
• Notice butterflies.
• Listen to birds singing.
You get the idea—just do anything else to unplug whenever possible. Don’t automatically turn to video games, Netflix, or brain-numbing YouTube videos.
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Moving on to the exchange of gases . . .