My Writing Process — Blog Post #1
When I was deciding what to blog about I found a book on Amazon, “Blogging for Writers” by Robin Houghton. Among a list of specific topics for blog posts, I was surprised to find ‘My Writing Process’. I wouldn’t have thought this would be of interest to anyone else, but once I focused on it, I realized I that my writing process is very specific and I think it could help others to find a process that works for them.
I think most people, when they hear the phrase, “my writing process”, they imagine a description of how I decide what to write about, when I write and so on. For me, the process of simply sitting down to write got more complicated over the years. For my earlier, technical books, I had a traditional writing setup with a desk and an office chair. That was before I started having lower back pain.
I have had lower back pain for some years. It doesn’t bother me that much most days, and only once did I have such bad back pain that I had to take a day off of work and simply lie on my back in bed. Most days, if I don’t do something stupid like lifting something heavy or twisting my back at some awkward angle, my back pain is just some soreness that comes and goes. I discussed this with my doctor some years ago and she recommended a set of stretching exercises that I do most weekdays, and that helps. My doctor also prescribed a muscle relaxant to treat muscle spasms and a generic form of Vicodin for pain relief. I have only once felt I needed to take these and they seemed to help. I also take them with me when I travel just in case a long drive or flight causes my back pain to flare up.
You must be wondering, how this is relevant to my writing process? My lower back pain made it difficult for me to sit still for long periods of time. This means sitting at a desk would, after an hour or two, cause my back pain to escalate. I had a nice desk setup with a very capable PC, but I didn’t sit down to write very often. The focus here is on my writing process, but I had many other projects that require sitting at my PC. I used my PC to design model train layouts and edit and paint photos. I wasn’t doing any of these activities as much as I wanted to because I was avoiding the back pain that would result from sitting at my desk for long periods of time.
At the same time, I knew that lying in bed didn’t cause my back to hurt and I very much like the reclining chairs we had at home. When I talked to my doctor about my back pain, she pointed out that what I needed to do to prevent back pain, was to reduce any activities that lead to back pain. She specifically suggested that I recline as much as possible. The more time spent reclining, the better. My day job is software support so I spend all day on a laptop and sitting at a desk all those hours was not helping. About ten years ago, my employer at that time started encouraging employees to work from home. I have been working from home full time for many years. I didn’t have a permanent office at home so I had to move to different rooms in the house several times. I found a small computer workstation online that was just big enough for my laptop and dual displays. One of the features of this workstation made it easy to adjust the height. You could work at this workstation either sitting or standing, and it rolled easily from room to room.
The obvious solution was to setup this workstation in front of my recliner and I’d be all set. I was a great idea, but, there were issues. The recliner, when reclined, extends to support your feet and that means the workstation can’t be very close to me. This put the monitors so far from my eyes that I couldn’t effectively work. I thought about ways I could use the workstation but move the monitors closer to me while reclining. I have seen computer screens on arms that swing left to right and adjust up and down. I found a set of dual arms on Amazon and after lots of measurements, decided to order them. I was able to mount these arms on the workstation and with the arms extended, the monitors were supported closer to me. It worked! I’ve been using this setup for working full time for about a year. This setup also allows me to do any computer related activity for as long as I like without any back pain.