Ways for Writers to be More Ergonomic

Ways for Writers to be More Ergonomic, Guest post by Melissa Chan, creator of Literary Book Gifts.

Guest post by Melissa Chan, creator of Literary Book Gifts.

Ways for Writers to be More Ergonomic

Writing is a skill that mostly takes place in your mind. When I write, it’s more important to think about the ideas than the actual method of getting the words onto the paper. But however much you design, plan, and sketch out your ideas, these days you will eventually need to type them up on a computer.

I’ll give you just a few ways that I try too be more ergonomic while I write everyday. Hopefully it will give you some ideas to make your own writing a  little easier so you can focus on the most important thing, writing better for longer hours.

Monitor vs. laptop

Laptops are great for on-the-go. Coffee shops, meetings, and out-of-office coordination are all places and times for laptops. But when it really gets time to concentrate and work you will want to be looking at getting a monitor. If you look at the way you or other people sit with a laptop you can tell it doesn’t bode well for their neck, arms, and back. I know I’ve thought I would just send a couple of quick emails on my laptop and ended up surfing the web for an hour until my neck was sore.

Monitors might look like big electronic purchases, but in general they are not that expensive. A monitor such as this one will do just fine. Computers are so advanced these days that some monitors that look like nothing more than the screen actually have entire computers in them. These tend to cost a lot more and are not what is needed if you are just looking for a good cost-benefit ratio in terms of ergonomics alone. Most monitors will allow you to hook up and directly display the contents of your laptop on the bigger screen. This way you get both the benefits of a monitor and a laptop in one.

Ergonomic set up

Ergonomics extend far beyond getting a monitor. I’ve seen people exhibit very poor posture despite having a good monitor. The desk, chair, mouse and keyboard should all be taken into account when setting up your work station for long hours of writing. The desk tends to cost the most, so if it is a reasonable height and doesn’t move around too much when you type it is probably fine and doesn’t need to be replaced.

However, people vary a lot in height and stature. Investing in a good adjustable computer chair can make a big difference. Be on the lookout for one that has the general look an appearance of this one. All computer chairs tend to have adjustable height, some even have adjustable back and arms.

Make sure that your mouse and keyboard are also good as well. I find that keyboards tend to vary based on personal preference but for mouses I always like going for lightweight options. I’ve tried wireless mouses before in the past but because they have batteries they tend to be much heavier than ones with wires that you plug directly into the computer. This is ultimately for the best more me because I find them to be cheaper, less maintenance, and they avoid connectivity issues. This mouse is a great inexpensive and lightweight option.

I hope that these tips to make your set up more ergonomic have given you a few ideas. Do you try to be more ergonomic while you write? Let me know below in the comments.

Guest post by Melissa Chan, creator of Literary Book Gifts.  Ways for Writers to be More Ergonomic

Ways for Writers to be More Ergonomic, Guest post by Melissa Chan, creator of Literary Book Gifts.
Melissa Chan is the creator of Literary Book Gifts (https://literarybookgifts.com), gift shop for book lovers. She spends long hours designing and writing and tries to be as ergonomic as possible.
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The Meandering Path from Numbers to Words

The Meandering Path from Numbers to Words, Guest post by Alan Orloff, author of I Know Where You Sleep

Guest post by Alan Orloff, author of I Know Where You Sleep.

The Meandering Path from Numbers to Words

The Meandering Path from Numbers to Words, Guest post by Alan Orloff, author of I Know Where You Sleep
Some little kids, from the time they could hold a pencil in their hands, wrote stories. About dragons and fairies and cowboys and firefighters and astronauts. Great tales of adventure featuring heroes conquering villains in wildly imaginative ways.

Not me. I didn’t like to write. Too much work.

When I was in high school, I hated English class (much to the chagrin of my father, an ex-English teacher!). I didn’t read all the classic novels by the classic writers, mostly because I was never patient enough to try to understand all that old-timey English and run-on sentences (Faulkner, anyone?). Instead, I opted for the Cliffs Notes version, which I usually crammed into my brain the night before the exams (shh! Don’t tell my mother!). I couldn’t get through Melville or Joyce, but I loved Asimov and Heinlein, King and Koontz. I was a happy camper, as long as I could choose what I wanted to read (and didn’t have to analyze it in any fashion).

And while I liked reading, I was always a numbers guy at heart. So in college, I majored in engineering and never had to take a creative writing course. Or read any fiction, either, for that matter. After graduation, the extent of my writing consisted of the occasional grocery list (not much of a plot, no characterization). I didn’t like engineering very much, so I went on to business school, where I wrote a lot of papers and reports and case studies, all dry as dust, full of clich├ęs, buzzwords, and jargon intended to confuse even the most dedicated readers.

No writing of fiction.

But a couple of decades later, something happened. I wish I could tell you what that something was, but I honestly don’t know. The upshot? I decided to try my hand at writing fiction! (Much to the surprise of my wife.)

It sounds like my convoluted transformative journey would make a good story. I wonder who I could get to write it?

Here are some things to consider if you’re considering making that leap to writing fiction:

Start slowly: Dip your feet into the water before taking the plunge. For me, that consisted of a “proof of concept” exercise. I wrote a number of short stories to see if I liked writing. I did, and I kept at it! Whatever you do, don’t quit your day job! (Not yet, anyway!)

Increase your knowledge: Read books on writing, take classes, participate in workshops to learn more about your (new) craft. I started by taking an Adult Ed class on creative writing. The instructor said that the story I wrote for class didn’t stink, and I interpreted that as encouragement. I took more and more workshops until—eventually—I was able to teach workshops at the same writer’s center where I was a student!

Get feedback: Try to find and/or develop some trusted readers. Getting feedback on your work keeps you from spinning your wheels and getting discouraged.

Get plugged into the local writing community: Networking with other writers proved invaluable for me. In addition to learning about potential markets for my writing, I got a lot of support; writing is a lonely endeavor and it’s nice to be able to commiserate—and celebrate—with others on the same journey.

The Meandering Path from Numbers to Words, Guest post by Alan Orloff, author of I Know Where You Sleep
Alan Orloff’s work has won the ITW Thriller Award and Derringer Award and been a finalist for the Agatha Award. His ninth novel, I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP will be released in February from Down & Out Books. www.alanorloff.com
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Low-Pay Writing

Low-Pay Writing: Guest post by James A. Haught, author of Blasphemy For Thinking People

Guest post by James A. Haught, author of Blasphemy For Thinking People.

Low-Pay Writing

Low-Pay Writing: Guest post by James A. Haught, author of Blasphemy For Thinking People
Moliere said:  “Writing is like prostitution.  First you do it for the love of it.  Then you do it for a few friends.  And finally you do it for money.”
Unfortunately, many of today’s writers can’t attain the level of a self-supporting hooker, because markets and communications have evolved into strange new territory.
A colossal Niagara of writing occurs in this astounding new Cyber Age.  The Internet now has two billion websites, and 500 million of them are blogs written on every conceivable topic.  Each day, millions of words flow.
But few of the authors earn a livable sum for their work.  Most do it just for the joy of offering their ideas to the world, while relying on other income.
As a retired newspaper editor, I’m a weekly blogger on three sites.  The Good Men Project and Canadian Atheist pay me nothing for reprinting my previously published essays.  Daylight Atheism at Patheos pays me two dollars per thousand readers of new or recycled skeptic tirades. 

Low-Pay Writing: Guest post by James A. Haught, author of Blasphemy For Thinking People
To mark Haught’s 65 years in news biz, Gazette artists created this rendition.

At D.A., I average near two thousand readers per posting.  So far, I’ve gotten two checks, one for $158, the other for $98.  I’m delighted with my hooker pay.
Right now, around 300 of my essays are in cyberspace at CounterPunch, Free Inquiry, Church & State, Secular Web, PeaceVoice, etc.  After I’m gone (I’m 87 now), I hope they remain online, giving me a bit of immortality.
Bottom line:  I’m quite happy to write seven days a week for almost no pay, just for kicks.  I can afford to do it, because I live on a fat newspaper pension and fat Social Security.
However, for younger writers trying to earn a living, the story is much bleaker.  An Authors Guild survey of 5,000 full-time and part-time writers found that their average 2017 earnings fell to a pathetic $6,080, far below the poverty line.
Apparently there are so many write-for-nothing authors like me that the market doesn’t need to shell out big money to get quality prose.
Looking back through history, there were plenty of writers who went hungry.  Edgar Allan Poe reportedly earned only a few hundred dollars from his immortal work.  But others cashed in.
When I was young, plenty of paying markets existed.  In its heyday, Penthouse paid me $4,000 and $3,000 for a couple of pieces.  But paper publications barely survive today, wrecked mostly because readers switched to cyberland, where nobody needs to pay for subscriptions – and advertising followed the readers.

Low-Pay Writing: Guest post by James A. Haught, author of Blasphemy For Thinking People
Haught, right, with acquaintances.  White House photo, 1994

Many voices lament the collapse of writer pay.  Authors Guild President James Gleick said:
“When you impoverish a nation’s authors, you impoverish its readers.”
Vice President Richard Russo added:
“There was a time in America, not so very long ago, that dedicated, talented fiction and nonfiction writers who put in the time and learned the craft could make a living doing what they did best, while contributing enormously to American knowledge, culture and the arts.  That is no longer the case for most authors.”
Guild member T.J. Stiles said:
“Poverty is a form of censorship…. Limiting writing to the financially independent and the sinecured punishes authors based on their lack of wealth and income.”
Well, I don’t know any cure for the pay decline.  Society and technology evolve constantly.  Changes often inflict harm on people who previously were secure.
All I know is that the Internet teems with unpaid and low-paid authors, and compulsive writers like me are neck-deep in the new reality.

Low-Pay Writing: Guest post by James A. Haught, author of Blasphemy For Thinking People
James A. Haught
James A. Haught was born on Feb. 20, 1932, in a small West Virginia farm town that had no electricity or paved streets.  He graduated from a rural high school with 13 students in the senior class.  He came to Charleston , worked as a delivery boy, then became a teen-age apprentice printer at the Charleston Daily Mail in 1951.  Developing a yen to be a reporter, he volunteered to work without pay in the Daily Mail newsroom on his days off to learn the trade.  This arrangement continued several months, until The Charleston Gazette offered a full-time news job in 1953.  He has been at the Gazette ever since - except for a few months in 1959 when he was press aide to Sen. Robert Byrd.
During his six decades in newspaper life, he has been police reporter, religion columnist, feature writer and night city editor - then he was investigative reporter for 13 years, and his work led to several corruption convictions.  In 1983 he was named associate editor, and in 1992 he became editor.  In 2015, as The Gazette combined with the Daily Mail, he assumed the title of editor emeritus, but still writes personal columns.
Haught has won two dozen national newswriting awards, and is author of 12 books and 150 magazine essays.  About 60 of his columns have been distributed by national syndicates.  He also is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine, is a weekly blogger at Daylight Atheism, and was writer-in-residence for the United Coalition of Reason. He is listed in Who’s Who in America , Who’s Who in the World, Contemporary Authors and 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century.  He has four children, 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
His books include Holy Horrors (1990), Science in a Nanosecond (1990), “Holy Hatred” (1995), 2,000 Years of Disbelief (1996), Honest Doubt (2007), Amazon Moon (2007), Fascinating West Virginia (2008), Fading Faith (2010), Religion is Dying (2014), Hurrah for Liberals (2016), Blasphemy for Thinking People (2019, plus a 1992 art book featuring lovers depicted by master artists, to refute both bluenose censors and crude pornographers.
For years, he enjoyed hiking with Kanawha Trail Club, participating in a philosophy group, and taking grandchildren swimming off his old sailboat. He is a longtime member of Charleston ’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
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