Someone once said “Typists type; screenwriters stare out windows.”
And it’s true! For the most part. When we’re not staring out windows, we screenwriters are, actually, typing. And all that sitting down and mashing keys and staring at our monitors can literally be shaving years off of our lives.
Here are three quick easy things you can do to save the screenwriter (or really, any desk junkie) in your life:
Love your eyeballs
Eye strain from looking at a computer monitor can manifest in many ways: blurred (or double) vision, pain around the temples or head, exhaustion, or even just plain eye redness or dryness.
Avoiding eye strain can be as simple as taking breaks every 45 minutes where you’re not looking at the screen, making sure there’s adequate light in the room other than the light coming from your monitor, or even adjusting the size of the text on your screen, which is super easy on both PC’s and Macs. For example, just using your browser right now, you can hold down CTRL and hit + or – and it will zoom up or down the text size on most browsers (hit CTRL-0 to return to normal).
And make sure your monitor’s contrast and brightness settings are at a level where they don’t hurt your eyes to look at it.
Wrists flat, level with the elbow
Carpal tunnel syndrome is when the nerve running through the wrist gets pinched or compressed, causing a dull throbbing pain over time, or even swelling of the fingers. Worse, it makes screenwriting very painful.
The good news is, once you discover how carpal tunnel syndrome happens, you can, most of the time, easily reverse the symptoms, if you act fast and change your habits permanently.
What habits? Mostly, carpal tunnel syndrome for screenwriters can be traced to how we hold our hands relative to our keyboard and mouse while typing. Go ahead and type something into a document right now and then stop yourself midway.
Now take a look at both elbows. Now look at your wrists. If your elbows are generally higher or lower than where your wrists are resting on your desk, you want to get into the habit of keeping those level to each other.
The angle makes all the difference. If the elbows and wrists aren’t level, over time, that causes more pressure to build on that nerve running through your wrist. And that’s what you want to avoid. Here are some exercises and more info.
Doctors everywhere are starting to realize the health negatives of sitting down all day.
According to a study by the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, sitting for long periods every day accounted for 6.9 percent of the deaths of study participants. And compared to folks who spent only 4 hours a day sitting down, sitters’ odds of dying were 15% high for people who sat for 8 hours, and 40% higher for folks who sat for 11 or more hours per day.
In other words, get off your butt, screenwriters!
Some common sense things you can do right now to save your circulation and your heart, and live longer to write more screenplays include:
Go buy what’s called a “standing desk.” Places like GeekDesk.com specialize in manufacturing higher-end standing desks that are adjustable vertically, but you can also buy a cheap standing desk for $200 or less, or even make one yourself.
But short of buying or creating a standing desk, you can simply make sure you’re not sitting all day. Which means, jump up every 30 minutes and walk around, getting that blood flowing. Take a walk, do some jumping jacks… anything to just break up those long periods of sitting we screenwriters love to indulge in as we’re banging out our new spec scripts.
I want every screenwriter who reads this to change their life habits and live a long healthy life, because it’s not gonna be all that fun if I win the Best Screenplay Oscar in 2020 just because all my competition dropped dead. No fun at all.