Why writers must suffer for their art

Perhaps it is the bane of many a writer, but I suffer terribly with stiffness in my neck and shoulders, particularly when I have been sat at my computer or laptop for many an hour. I have been experiencing pain for the last few weeks, I carried on manfully (or womanly, in my case) and ignored the increasing discomfort until yesterday when it became too much to bear.

Frustrated that I was in mid-flow when agonizing stiffness struck, I was unable to get much writing done and combined with the pain, it made me more than a little irritable. There’s nothing else for it, I thought as I drained the last of my coffee and threw my big red editing pen down in a fit of pique, off to the chiropractor I shall go!

After more than twenty minutes of being poked, prodded and generally beaten up, the chiropractor asked me to sit up so that she could assess my current level of movement after she had finished manhandling me.

“This is the worst that I’ve seen your posture for some time,” she grumbled as she applied some kind of medieval device that punched me repeatedly in the lower neck. “What have you been doing to make your neck so bad?”

“Writing,” I replied proudly as I puffed my chest out like a peacock, instantly regretting the rash choice of movement when the muscles in my upper back voiced their displeasure.

“Maybe you shouldn’t do that so much,” she suggested as she placed her tool down and then slathered me in cooling gel, numbing me completely.

“I’m a writer. It’s what I do.” I said it with as much conviction as I could. Did this woman not realise that writers must suffer for their art?

“Well maybe you should do something else. Otherwise you’re going to be back in my office every couple of weeks.”

I’ll admit that she had a point. Visits to the chiropractor are expensive at the best of times without having to increase the frequency of my visits. I shook my head vigorously at her suggestion.

“Maybe not write as much?”

Her second suggestion was even more galling than the first. Clearly this woman lived solely in the left side of her brain. My repeated claims that I simply must use every spare second I have to write fell on deaf ears. Suggesting that a writer not write as often as possible is much like telling someone not to breathe. It’s a function vital to your continued existence.

Seeing that she’d peeved me, she suggested that we agree to disagree and that perhaps I should look into some natty exercises that I could do at my keyboard. I smiled politely and left the room, knowing full well that I would be back there, groaning in agony and begging her to put me back together again, way before my next scheduled session. I knew all of this, yet I didn’t really care. Writing is who I am, its what I do.

Pffft, pain be damned. You shall not stand in the way of creativity!



Filed under Starting out

19 responses to “Why writers must suffer for their art

  1. I shouldn’t laugh at your pain โ€“ but you have such an amusing way of telling the story that I did chuckle. Ah, so this is what suffering for one’s art is all about! Think about it this way: you have neck pain, but Van Gogh gave up an ear!

  2. True… Van Gogh took the easy way out, when you think about it that way! Seriously, great post.

  3. D K Roberts

    Oh, I sympathise!
    I used to get dreadful tendon pains in my hand thanks to my PC’s mouse, plus the usual neck and shoulder pains, backache, etc. These days I no longer use my ancient and lumbering PC and have instead switched to using a laptop for all my writing and research. I don’t get the pains in my hand anymore (although I’m still grumbling about the trackpad) and it helps all around not to be chained to an uncomfortable desk.
    I don’t believe you need do anything close to giving up writing, just work out how to create a comfortable ergonomic space. Unfortunately, homes are not offices, and kitchen tables, dining tables and armchairs are all persistent contributors to the back and neck trouble. But if Roald Dahl can do it for years with an old chair and a piece of wood in a shed, we can take hope! Just find your comfy place!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog post, it is very much appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚
      I have a cheap old office chair and a desk that is not suitable for a person of my height and I think that is probably half the reason that I have been getting so much pain. I really must invest in some quality furniture so that I can be more comfortable when I write. I adore writing, but my neck and shoulders often have other ideas!

      Your comment about Roald Dahl was spot on. If he can do it, so can I! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Heather xxx

  4. What were the natty exercises? I also get stiff and sore after sitting at the computer for long spells. The main problem is that I get so absorbed in what I’m doing that I don’t realize I’m all hunched over and in pain until it’s too late. It hasn’t stopped me though. Love your blog.

  5. As a Chiropractor myself I am disheartened to hear that your Chiropractor could not offer more advice than to give up writing. I have a local ergonomic office supplier who I refer to so that people like writers can continue their art and reamin comfortable to boot. Allow me to introduce you to them. They do all sorts from the obvious ergonomic chairs, but also wrist rests, and document holders and ergonomic mice! Hope you enjoy looking at them, and as you can they come in creative colours too! http://www.saxen.co.uk/Laptop-Stands-Tablet-Ergonomic-Screen-Elevation

  6. Reblogged this on joyofhealthbeautyandnutrition and commented:
    Haha I am learning. Have found it to re-blog it!

  7. Pingback: Blogging on a Blog! | joyofhealthbeautyandnutrition

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