Apr 7, 2017

Occupational Hazards of the Jobbing Writer

Writing for a living is a great job.  A dream job some might say.  But like any long-term occupation it comes with its tics, its frontline injuries, its occupational hazards.

Here are a few:

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
All that typing, mousing and running frustrated fingers through ones hair rents havoc on the wrists!
Rehab: Rest, wrapping the affected area, ice packs.

WALKING INTO WALLS COMPLEX
Literally. As a writer one’s imagination is never entirely switched off.  When I was a child my parents thought I might have a hearing problem. The specialist diagnosed me a condition known as being “Off with the Fairies”.  Oh the number of times I’ve looked up and had no idea how I got there! 
Rehab: Mindfulness by way of yoga can help.
 
Yet, on the flipside…

CHRONIC LISTENING-IN-ITIS
Imagine yourself out at a café, having a deep and meaningful with a friend.  If there is a writer nearby, chances are they’ll hang on your every word.
Rehab: None necessary.  (We have to get ideas from somewhere!

CHOCOHOLICNESS
I realise this one isn't limited to writers.  We might not even be the most tragic.  But boy do we give it a red hot go!
Rehab: Bwahahahahaa!  That's funny.

SEEING-THE-PLOT-TWIST-COMING SYNDROME
I’ve always been the perfect movie watcher, happily going exactly where the filmmakers lead me. Laughing where they want me to laugh, crying where they want me to cry, not picking the twist until it happens.  Only now, with a working knowledge of writerish crafty things called “story beats” and “three act structure”, so often I know which character will die near the end of the movie as soon as they walk on screen.  It’s an honest to goodness tragedy!
Rehab: Watch really great movies that sweep you up so thoroughly you have no chance to unpick the threads as they are woven around you.

COMPULSION TO PHOTOGRAPH HANDSOME MALE STRANGERS DISEASE
If a gorgeous specimen of manhood - hero material if you will - walks into my vision, I’ve been known to stare unashamedly and quickly jot down details such as the way his hairs sits, eye slant, grin shape
Rehab: I’ve never gone so far as to snap a quick pic, but I’d be surprised if others haven’t!  Therefore no rehab necessary.

STATIONERY ADDICTION
It’s serous.  And it’s real.  (Thankfully it’s also tax deductible J)
Rehab: Pfft.  Indulge, baby.

What occupational hazards come with your line of work?  I’ll bet there are some doozies those of us out of the loop have no clue about!

23 comments:

  1. When I was still nursing, Ally, raw, dry hands was a major occupational hazzard frpm constant washing with products meant to disinfect not soothe.....
    Ouch! I dont miss that :-/

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    1. Totally agree after 38 years of hand-washing, my hands are a wreck. When they added hand sanitizer it got worse. Theyn they said no personal hand lotions at work because it defeated the purpose of the hand sanitizers. I worked night shift in the nursery, so we would heat up an empty warmer and smear cocobutter on our hands and let them soak up in the heat..worked a treat, but our day manager could not figure out the coconut scent...

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  2. What a great post Ally

    When I worked I was playing with money all of the time and it is so filthy I was forever washing my hands so they dried out and cracked and became very sore, these days my eyes tend to get a bit tired from all of the reading I do :)

    Have Fun
    Helen

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    1. Habits of the prolific reader - sore eyes. Yes! My eyesight is spot on but my optometrist gave me glasses that took my eyesight back a step so when I looked up from reading my eyes didn't have to adjust so severely. Makes a huge difference!

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  3. Hi Ally!

    You made me laugh all through this post. Yes, and yes, and yes. Nice to know I'm not so odd in all of this after all. As for photographing handsome men, I've been very tempted but didn't as I thought they might not appreciate it.

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    1. You can totally take pictures of handsome guys by not focusing on them, just include them in the scenery like they are photo bombing!!!

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    2. I don't mind the staring, the jotting-down-of-details-in-the-name-of-craft, even the odd sly photo for said research purposes, BUT I really, really hate when said photos are shared on social media (as I've seen done occasionally) along with objectifying commentary. Poor form, that.

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    3. Annie, you are clearly a kindred spirit!

      Laurie, I've thought about it. Deeply. But so far have been able to resist :).

      Bron, agreed! I do the same with women who have a certain something about them too. Equal opportunity stalker :).

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  4. Great post, Ally. Thrilled no rehab necessary for stationary - I love it and indulge. I used to not use some of the beautiful notebooks - saving them for something special - not any more - I use everything.

    I used to work in management consulting, often working from 7am until midnight, night after night. So exhaustion was an occupational hazard.

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    1. I used to have so many beautiful notebooks that I could never use! But now I use them with abandon. Bliss!

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  5. Off-with-the-fairy-itis? YES! Laughing at these and nodding my head in agreement. There's another one I'm guilty of too -- light bruise across the bridge of my nose from iPad mini falling on my face as I fall asleep reading a book. ;-)

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    1. OMG yes! The number of times I've smacked myself in the face with ereader... It's how I know I'm ready to sleep :).

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  6. I think I'm afflicted (blessed?) with all of these. My husband always hates when we watch a movie or TV show and I pick the plot twist I mile out. We used to play a game when watching CSI to see who could pick the killer quickest. I'm holding the trophy on that one with ease lol

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  7. I worked as an RN in nursery for 38 years, and I got carpel tunnel from holding baby bottles during feedings, compounded by computer charting, especially when the last year they switched to tablets. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I just couldn't use and hold those tablets comfortably. I had to get a note from my rheumatologist so I could use a laptop on a rolling cart. My inner artist likes to collect stationary and art supplies. I have boxes of papers and pens and craft supplies ready to get me through retirement.

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    1. A rolling cart sounds like a brilliant idea. anything we can do to save our hands the better.

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  8. Loved your blog, Ally! I can relate to all of the above. The only one I would add is when I listening to a friend telling me her woes, a part of my brain is filing it away for future use with a character. I just can't help it!

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    1. We are so sneaky that way, aren't we?

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  9. I reckon the worse side-effect of being a writer is how the story takes over your brain -- especially when you're trying a to work through a plot problem -- and interferes with normal life practices. Like sleep. And conversing with family on other topics. A bit like away-with-the-fairies but more intense.

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    1. Oh yes. I'm famous for being far far away from the real world at inopportune times. Eek.

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  10. I understand the dry/damaged hands one that Amy and others have mentioned. I had the same problem when I worked in fast food - fortunately that's been gone for 3 and a bit years now.

    Hazards in my current job: over-exposure to the stupidity of the world (but that'd be because those who aren't stupid or who know what they are doing are don't have to call my day job workplace), a jealousy of some people's incomes, and that same RSI/carpel tunnel risk that comes with an computer based job.

    As an aspiring writer, I don't mind most of the hazards you have mentioned. The first one is a risk from my day job anyway, and I'm so un-co-ordinated that the second hazard would probably be a problem even if my brain wasn't elsewhere.

    The stationery addiction is one I've long had. I learned that it was common to writers as the result of a Rachel Bailey post on Facebook a while back - that thing had a LOOOOOOOOOOOOT of comments. I must admit courtesy of a scheme called Feejoa here in NZ, I've found a way to repay a tiny bit extra while still indulging my stationery addition so I'm happy

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    1. Lyn, it looks like writing is meant to be :).

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