Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[process] The unbearable lightless of typing

I'm not sure I ever explained why my MacBook went in for repairs. The lower left corner of the portion of the case where the keyboard sits was splintering. This is apparently because I rest the base of my left hand too hard against the machine while typing. There was a discolored arc there from skin-to-plastic contact, and the boundary where the faceplate meets the edge of machine had broken into long slivers. This actually happened back in January while I was drafting Green, and I'd wrapped that end of the machine in Scotch tape to keep it from pricking at my hand.

lasirenadolce and I were discussing this over dinner tonight. She thought it was pretty funny. I've only had this computer since last summer (the repair was covered under warranty), but I figure I've already typed over 600,000 words on it. The letter on the "E" key was worn off, and the "S" key was almost gone. Apple replaced the keyboard as well, which given its recent orange juice bath at Norwescon was all to the good.

Which lead me to wonder why I have virtually no issues with RSI. I mean, I killed a computer faceplate in about eight months from writing so hard, what am I doing to my wrists and hands?

I've blogged about RSI and carpal-tunnel before, here and here. More to the point, y'all have contributed some excellent comment threads there on the topic. This is near and dear to writers, for very obvious reasons.

Increasingly I have become convinced that the reason I don't have such issues is that with the exception of being on airliners, I never write in a fixed position. Anyone who's ever been around me when I'm writing knows I sprawl, shift, wriggle, fuss, interrupt, get up, move around, in a never-ending kaleidoscope of twitch. I hit all the checkpoint on those self-assessments for adult ADHD, and I'm sure I'd have been a Ritalin kid if they'd been handing that stuff out like candy in the early 1970s, the way they do today.

So many writers have their 'writing place'. It's one of the most common pieces of writing advice, to set up a special place in your house where you can do that. Helps build habits, train your friends and family to leave you alone, et cetera.

But a writing place means a fixed position in front of a statically located keyboard. My writing place is in my head. I very rarely commit fiction sitting up in a chair with my computer on a flat surface.

Certainly I have no data whatsoever to correlate desktop computer use and fixed working position to RSI. My anecdotal experience is that if anyone should get RSI, it's me, and so far I've been blessedly free. Laptop computer and highly randomized working positions, that's me.

I don't get RSI, my computer does.
Tags: green, personal, process, tech, writing

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