Last week, I woke up with an intense pain in my thumb and an overall numbness in my hand. To say I freaked out would be an understatement, especially since I was totally fine when I went to bed the previous night. In fact, I was more than fine; I was writing.
I had a new idea, a post-apocalyptic novel with flying islands and metal dragons and this really badass heroine. I was – and still am – super stoked about it… so stoked that I decided I must write it by hand. A fantasy novel, possibly a trilogy, fully written by hand… I must be insane, right? Bit of a background here, though: nine or ten years ago, I used to write everything by hand. I had notebooks upon notebooks filled with stories. Then I bought a laptop and it seemed more convenient to just type them in right away, from the comfort of my bed, no notebook balancing needed. I didn’t abandon my penmanship completely – I still brainstormed on paper, I still had some journals… but I was no longer writing for prolonged periods of time.
I think, in those years, my hand sorta forgot what it was like, writing full-blown novels, assuming it had completely passed on the baton to the tips of my fingers. So it was in for a rude awakening when I made it write 30+ pages in 3 days, and it retaliated by giving me my own rude awakening. Quite literally.
To be completely fair, my hand should have seen it coming. I mean, I had taken up calligraphy recently, and was constantly practicing my alphabets and staining my fingers blue and red and black and figuring out all the proper angles for each script. It was inevitable that I’d want to eventually move to novel writing. And okay, okay, I probably should not have given it epileptic shock by writing so much in so little time. But come on!
I still can’t hold a pen without pain shooting up my hand, and my thumb still looks kinda wonky, almost like it’s broken (apparently this is called writer’s cramp!) … but this got me thinking about the other dangers and harmful side-effects of writing, by hand and otherwise.
- Insomnia: Many of us have been kept up late at night by a story idea that just won’t budge until it has been written down. Of course this leads to exhaustion and overall crankiness.
- Eye Injuries: Have you noticed that the majority of writers wear glasses? Also – if you’re using a pen, careful not to poke your eye out, or scratch your cornea like I once did.
- Madness: Have you started talking to fictional characters yet? No? Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure you haven’t, not even once, argued with a character because they weren’t behaving the way they were supposed to? Theeere you go.
- Isolation: Every writer has those days where they refuse to interact with anyone on the basis that they are communicating with their muse.
- Weight Gain: Because every writer has the munchies and every writer has them while they’re sitting down and the only thing they’re moving is their hands.
- Insecurity: Everything I write sucks.
- Hair Loss: Because come on – you had to have ripped out a few strands of hair in all the frustration.
Of course, this is all written in jest (except the eye injuries – absolutely be careful with pens. It is an extremely painful experience and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone). The pros of writing outweigh all the cons. And even if they don’t… well, writers are sadistic creatures of habit anyway, right?
Have you ever caused yourself a writing injury, though? Is there any side-effect I’ve missed?
Oh, and um, because it doesn’t hurt to show off a little bit… 😉