Writing Is a Pain In The Neck

Do you ever wake in the morning with a crook in your back, neck, or wrists? You think maybe you slept wrong or you lifted too many weights at the gym. Or maybe you blame it on your dog or your cat because they were hogging your side of the bed. Whatever the reason, you’re uncomfortable.

Then it happens again the next day, and the next.

This happened to me and it got me thinking–why? My bed was fairly new and I wasn’t lifting any more weight than I usually do in my exercise routine, so why did my muscles ache? Then I had another idea: I boiled one of those mouth splints thinking I was grinding my teeth at night–which I probably was–but even after wearing it to bed I still had pain the next morning.

What was I doing? All I did most days was sit and write, edit, post, tweet, text, and leave a FB status–how grueling was sitting?

I decided to research the ergonomics of writing posture. It turns out that my POSTURE has everything to do with my problem. No wonder I hurt every morning.  Writing is a career I want to enjoy for the rest of my life, so I need to fix my problem. Soon. Maybe you do, too.

Think of how much faster we could write if we were sitting properly.

Here’s a suggestion:  Have someone take a photo of you while you’re working so you can SEE your real posture.

This is how I look. It’s scary to think of how I’ll look in ten years or twenty!

 This is what I discovered in my research:

Seventeen Things You SHOULDN’T Do When You Write

  1. Rest your hands on your computer
  2. Lock your elbows
  3. Type with your laptop in your lap
  4. Look down at your computer
  5. Minimize your font size
  6. Let your cat lay across the keyboard
  7. Write for hours with no breaks
  8. Use arm rests while typing
  9. Slouch
  10. Keep your monitor to the right or left while typing
  11. Cross your legs or ankles
  12. Sit on the couch
  13. Use a laptop for long work periods
  14. Tuck your legs under you
  15. improperly alignment your arms to the keyboard
  16. Keep a space behind my back and the back of my chair
  17. Keep anything less than a 90 degree angle with respect to arms, legs, and shoulders
I am such a violator! I was doing almost every one of these. 
This is what we should look like:

Twenty Things You SHOULD Do When You Write

  1. Set a timer so you know when to take a 15 to 20 minutes break
  2. Do shoulder rolls and neck stretches during the break
  3. Keep your wrists level
  4. Keep the monitor at eye level
  5. Keep your computer screen at an arm’s length away
  6. Keep your back and buttocks pressed against the back of the chair
  7. Keep the monitor in the center line of vision
  8. Keep feet flat on the floor or elevated if possible
  9. Invest in the proper chair that’s adjustable and fits to your desk
  10. Sit at a desk
  11. Relax every muscle you aren’t using
  12. If you only have a laptop consider plugging it into a different monitor so it can be raised to the right level
  13. Consider using a mouse instead of the laptop’s touch pad
  14. Think 90 degree angles – your spine to your bottom, your thighs to your lower legs, from your elbows to your hands
  15. Keep your back against the seat
  16. Make yourself a laptop docking station
  17. Use a different keyboard than a laptop
  18. Search for the right desk-chair combo that suits your body type
  19. Keep your tummy relaxed–let it all hang out. (This is the only time it’s allowed.)
  20. Align wrists and forearms

Have someone take your photo while you’re writing. What does your posture look like? Does it need improvement? Send me your photo. If you dare!


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  1. Funny (helpful) list and all too true. Guilty as charged.

  2. Robin says:

    Oh, I’m so bad about all of these. My chiropractor yells at me every time I go in.

    Another thing many of us writers who are also readers do that compounds the problem is that while we’re reading, we bend our necks down to look at the page, while really we should be looking straight ahead. I’m under strict orders to place a rolled towel behind my neck for 15 minutes every day to try and help reverse the problem….

    • A rolled towel? Cool idea. The next time you see me I’ll be sporting my mouth splint and a towel. It’ll be my fab new look. Ha!

  3. Great originality in this article, Michelle! Thanks for sharing. . . I think I’m doing it all wrong too. (As I sit here with my laptop in my lap, my arms resting on my keyboard, and my head craned forward.) I’ll have to have someone take a picture. Thanks!!

    • Hi Michelle!
      Congrats on the launching of your newsletter! I haven’t had a chance to look at it, but I’m certain it’s great! Are you speaking at the ACFW this year? I was rejected. I wanted to do a track on HOW TO WRITE FAST. Oh well.
      I haven’t had anyone take a picture of me yet because I am still crooked, on the sofa, slouching. I need to build a new office.
      Hugs and thanks for stopping by today.

  4. Dr. Johnny Velazquez says:

    Hi Michelle,
    I am guilty, regarding all the aforementioned postures. My wife continually tells me, that one of these days, I’ll look like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” I thanked her, and told her that I was flattered, thinking that she was comparing me to one of the football players.
    This is my problem. I need to use both index fingers as I hunt, and peck, and must continually look down at the keyboard, otherwise, what I type will look Greek to the reader.
    I will attempt to remedy this problem, as I don’t see any remedy for my typing, ahem, skills.
    By the way…are you familiar with any medical intervention for my typing problem? Blessings.

  5. Hi Johnny,
    I laughed about your hunchback comment. Good luck on remedying your typing skills. Maybe taking piano lessons will strengthen your fingers. Ha!

  6. After several visits to a PT, I now sit straight (although not with my back against the chair–can’t see the monitor). I do 15 minutes of neck stretches before and just after I get out of bed. And i bought a great gel wrist pad for my keyboard and mouse. Now I need to get my timer out and start using it.

    Great post.

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