Tag Archives: Healthy writers

10 Quick Stretches to De-Stress Your Writer’s Body


I don’t know about you, but sometimes—especially during too-busy workweeks—I end up sitting hunched over my computer for way too many hours. And that’s a really bad thing.

Sitting is increasingly being linked to a variety of deadly illnesses, even for those who run or exercise in other ways. In addition, sitting at your computer typing away without a break puts you at risk for all kinds of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). And for those of us whose paying jobs require that we use the computer all day, and whose creative pursuits demand that we use it some more, well, we have to be even more diligent about getting up to walk around the house or office every hour or so, and sneaking lunch walks or other sources of movement and stretching into our day at regular intervals.

The stretching part of this recommendation is the subject of an article I wrote a few months ago, “Office Yoga: Sneak These 10 Stretches into Your Day,”* and I thought it would be helpful to share it now, since we’re in that oh-so-wonderful but oh-so-stressful holiday season, which can also include heavier workloads to prepare for time off.

One note in particular I’d like to highlight from my research for the article: When I interviewed Sandy Blaine, author of Yoga for Computer Users and longtime resident yoga teacher at Pixar Animation Studios, she greatly emphasized the importance of regular stretching since RSIs, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are incredibly difficult to treat once you have them. This is an area where an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. (But then, when isn’t that the case?) Since ironically I started to feel some of this in my wrists and forearms just after writing that article—I blame it on a new small laptop I’d been using in a less-than-ergonomic position—I want to personally emphasize the importance of frequent stretching as well. Even if you don’t do an “official” pose, be sure to occasionally stand up and stretch, flex your wrists, circle your hands around, roll your shoulders, stretch your back, and any other place that feels tight. In other words, try and stretch your whole body. This is because RSIs that happen in your wrist and forearms are actually the result of holding stress in your neck, shoulders, and other spots, according to Blaine, so be sure to take a comprehensive approach to your stretching.

For a list of the 10 stretches, along with instructions and photos, check out the article now.

*This article, originally published on Input Output, a former Federated Media site published by HP, has been recreated on Books+Body.



Filed under Health/Wellness, Inspiration, Yoga

Joyce Carol Oates on Being a Running Novelist

Walden Pond

View from trail at Walden Pond

Like Haruki Murakami and other running novelists, Joyce Carol Oates, author of more than 50 books and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction has used running in service of her creativity. Below are excerpts from her 1999 New York Times essay, “To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet.”

“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think what it might be. In running the mind flies with the body; the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms. Ideally, the runner who’s a writer is running through the land- and cityscapes of her fiction, like a ghost in a real setting.

“The structural problems I set for myself in writing, in a long, snarled, frustrating and sometimes despairing morning of work, for instance, I can usually unsnarl by running in the afternoon.

“On days when I can’t run, I don’t feel “myself”; and whoever the “self” is I feel, I don’t like nearly so much as the other. And the writing remains snarled in endless revisions.

“Both running and writing are highly addictive activities; both are, for me, inextricably bound up with consciousness. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t running, and I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing.

“The effort of memorable art is to evoke in the reader or spectator emotions appropriate to that effort. Running is a meditation; more practicably it allows me to scroll through, in my mind’s eye, the pages I’ve just written, proofreading for errors and improvements.

“Dreams may be temporary flights into madness that, by some law of neurophysiology unclear to us, keep us from actual madness. So, too, the twin activities of running and writing keep the writer reasonably sane and with the hope, however illusory and temporary, of control.”

Read entire essay.

What about you? Do you have a physical activity that helps you with your writing?


Filed under Health/Wellness, Inspiration, Running, Writing/Books