Chip MacGregor

August 4, 2010

Making Yourself Comfortable


Dana asked an interesting question: "What kinds of physical challenges have you faced in the daunting regimen of writing, and how have you compensated?"

I don’t know that I’ve found the writing and agenting life to be all that daunting, but I can share with you Ten Tips I’ve discovered…

1. Start an exercise program. Years ago, I simply went out and spent $200 on a Nordictrac, and I used it about 5 or 6 times per week for years. I hated it, but I felt better, had more energy, and it kept my heart pumping. Then I started running, and I still run most days. The fact is, writing and editing (and agenting) is a lot of sitting on your butt. Getting up gets your heart pumping, helps you handle stress better, and gives you more mental acuity. 

2. Use an ergonomic keyboard. It's much easier on the hands, and it'll only take you two days to get used to. (An added benefit: you'll never again hit the the letters "n", "h", or "y" by accident with your left index finger!)

3. Buy a good office chair. One that doesn't cut of circulation to your legs, that supports your lower back, that allows your feet to touch the floor (yeah, I'm short), and maybe even that leans you forward a bit. Then ask your spouse or co-worker to nag you about sitting up straight.

4. Spend ten bucks on a document holder. Some of the best money you'll ever spend.

5. Spend twenty bucks on a headset for your phone. I resisted this for years…now I LOVE my headset.

6. Learn to take breaks every hour. At those breaks, stand up and move around, and stretch out your hands.

7. Face your screen sideways to the window, not in front of it or beside it. That way your eyes aren’t fighting light from the window with light from the screen.

8. Get your work area organized. That will make you more relaxed, and it'll make you a more effective writer anyway. I admit to being a neat freak, and hate walking into an office that's a mess. But really, I don't believe the people who have piles of stuff all over but say to me, "Oh, I know where everything is." Ha. 

9. Invest in good lighting — bright but gentle. Note that all fluorescent lighting has a tendency to tire your eyes (in addition to ruining your photographs over time).

10. Hire a really good collaborative writer to actually write your book for you, so all you have to do is cash checks and do celebrity appearances. This is the MOST effective way to save your body from the rigors of a writing career, of course. And it leaves plenty of time to catch up on old episodes of “Perry Mason” and “Gilligan’s Island.”

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