"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Freelance Writer's Worst Nightmare: Carpal Tunnel

Writing Through the Pain

First of all, I'd like to apologize to my readers and friends for the long delay, and thank you for the kind words, comments, and e-mails over the past month. I'm not a big cliff hanger type of guy, so I assure you that part two of making a living freelance writing as a college student will be finished shortly as things have settled down.

There are many things that can affect a freelance writer's career, and one that has hit me for the first time a little over a week ago was carpal tunnel syndrome. As someone who is used to spending 10-15 hour days at the keyboard for years on end, I was probably long overdue for some type of repetitive stress disorder, and man did it hit me big time.

The pain in my arm was agonizing, and started in the hand, went to the wrist, and even shot up my arm all the way to the shoulder when I pushed too hard. I'm not going to go in to a lot on carpal tunnel or repetitive stress disorders, but I figure since writers are often pointed out as a classic occupation that suffers from this, I want to talk about it quickly.

Not all of freelance writing is about the writing. In my case when the pain was too much, I went to Wal-Greens and picked up a carpal tunnel wrist brace, which came with splint. This helps to provide support to your injured arm, and keeps the wrist from bending in a way that cuts off circulation to your hand (which is more or less how carpal tunnel works).

After even just a week of wearing this thing for a few hours a day, I am now a firm believer that every freelance writer with carpal tunnel should own one of these. And if you don't, consider getting one to help you at the first sign of discomfort or pain. Catching it early is a huge part of preventing it from getting worse.

Beyond the brace, take some ibuprofen three times a day to reduce swelling. This also means that you writers can't drink while treating CPT - not that any of us do anyway...:)

Other steps include breaking up your writing time into smaller slots, taking breaks, and reducing your work load by eliminating the things you really don't need to do and being efficient with your time. Carpal tunnel isn't anything to be taken lightly, as I've found out the hard way.

So while you're writing be careful, take care of your body, and if you need it or even feel slight discomfort in your hands after a long day, I strongly recommend a carpal tunnel brace to help treat your condition before it gets worse.

All you freelance writers stick together, and I'll be back with that long awaited second post on making a living as a freelance writer from college shortly. Thanks for the support and kind words, and to all the carpal tunnel writers out there - I feel ya'. Take care and keep on with your writing dreams.