RSI and when your books come back to haunt you – post at Authors Electric

I like to think I’m a decent human and would never hurt a fly. But in my books I’m vile.

It bothers me. I used to wake at night worrying about what it would really be like to have the troubles that Andreq and Carol have in My Memories of a Future Life. And what’s happening in Life Form 3 is definitely the stuff of nightmares.

So when I woke with the most debilitating RSI the other morning, like poor Carol, I thought I was getting my just desserts.

I’m at Authors Electric today, discussing authorly karma – and also what I do when I am (as regularly happens) struck down by repetitive strain injury.

(thanks for the pic Lizspikol)

Do you get RSI – and what do you do about it? How bad are you to your characters? Are you grateful you don’t have to live their lives? Tell me here – or come over to Authors Electric

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  1. #1 by J.C. Martin on April 20, 2012 - 8:36 am

    Ouch! RSI doesn’t sound fun. Not had it before, maybe because I’m not constantly typing when I’m on the computer. Spend more time just staring blankly at the screen. Perhaps being a slow writer is a blessing in disguise in that respect. ;)

    J.C. Martin
    A to Z Blogger

    • #2 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on April 20, 2012 - 11:37 pm

      JC – you’re obviously a thinker so perhaps you use your keystrokes more wisely. A lesson for us all… yay for slow writing!

      • #3 by J.C. Martin on April 21, 2012 - 4:10 pm

        Suppose being a slow writer has its perks after all. ;)

  2. #4 by Ruby Barnes on April 20, 2012 - 9:33 am

    I do a lot of keyboard work in the demon day job (when that’s intense it gives me back, shoulder and neck ache), play finger-picking guitar and tap away late and early as an author. I wake with my fists clenched from dreams. Sometimes the only way I can get to sleep is to consciously relax my hands. I find that karate helps with the neck, shoulders and back as a kind of physio. Alcohol helps with the hands (at the time but not after!). I’m thinking of trying speech to text programme for the writing.

  3. #6 by barbarahenderson on April 20, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    I did get a reader asking me if a character was someone we both knew – and someone else asked me “which one” was me! Had to explain the principle of fiction and “making things up”!

    • #7 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on April 20, 2012 - 11:43 pm

      Oh Barbara, that’s a perennial hazard. I once had a friend enthuse about a book of mine – and then it turned out he liked it only because he thought I’d written it about someone we both used to know. I hadn’t at all. It was, as you say, made up.

  4. #8 by DRMarvello on April 20, 2012 - 2:04 pm

    I have terrible RSI whenever I use a mouse for any length of time. I mostly solved that problem by switching to a pen tablet years ago. For detail work, like using any kind of graphics program, I reach for my trackball. However, the trackball causes problems too, if I use it long enough. The pen tablet is the only thing I’ve found that gives relief. I use a keyboard all day in my work (programming) and my writing, but that hasn’t caused pain, just a loss of dexterity.

    As for my characters, I did start off with one who was “me,” but his behavior and personality morphed away from mine as I built a background for him and extrapolated how that history would affect him. I have written other characters who do “bad” things (the villains, naturally), but I haven’t written them doing anything so vile that it has given me nightmares. I’m sure that will change over time. One of my critique partners is constantly encouraging me to amp up the conflict in my scenes, and I’m working that.

    • #9 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on April 20, 2012 - 11:46 pm

      Hi Daniel – I had no idea you were another sufferer. I like the idea of a pen tablet – not just for the relief but for the fun of a new creative toy.

      Interesting about your character who morphed. I work that way too – I start with something I identify with and then mould and squeeze them until they have found a psyche of their own.

    • #10 by DRMarvello on April 21, 2012 - 12:40 am

      You might really enjoy using a pen tablet. They are particularly useful if you use a drawing or illustration program. I like that the tablet represents the entire desktop, so you can position the cursor instantly where you want without the scraping motion associated with a mouse. You can also configure it to work in “mouse mode” if you prefer.

      I love the “mould and squeeze” process you mentioned with regard to character development. It has become my favorite aspect of writing. I start with a photo (usually of someone from a TV show or movie), select a Meyers-Briggs personality type, and then start layering history upon them, all the while thinking about how that history would affect someone of that personality type. I often end up with characters who have very strong opinions about very specific things, which makes them feel more real to me. I think I may be a closet amateur psychologist.

  5. #11 by Glynis Smy on April 20, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    I am positively evil in my books. I ensure my POV gets treated so badly. :)
    I get RSI, and have recently bought a smaller, slimmer mouse more suited to my small hands. I rub Algesal cream in my wrists. I think it is prescription only in UK. Anyway, that really helps.

    • #12 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on April 20, 2012 - 11:47 pm

      Hi Glynis! I figured you’d take no nonsense. I have a tiny mouse too, and use it when I need a change. It hurts after a short time but at least it’s given the major muscles a rest.

  6. #13 by Mark Feggeler on April 20, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    No RSI to speak of, unless you county blurry vision from staring at computer screens on in-office days. And, no, I definitely would not want to live the lives of any of my characters. I’m working diligently to make them as realistic as possible, and reality can be very depressing. I prefer living in my own little dreamworld.

  7. #15 by Sally - aka Saleena on April 22, 2012 - 4:23 pm

    Hi Roz! I’ve had pain in my hands a few times, but thankfully nothing too serious or long-lasting. Still, I do have a suspected pinched nerve in my neck that has caused terrible wake-me-up pain before. I also get killer migraine/headaches and staring at screens for a long time only aggravate them. So I have to turn the brightness down a lot.

    Admittedly I’ve never worried about what I put my characters through. Does that sound a little heartless? I’ve just never thought about it.

    Hope your arm is feeling better.

    • #16 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on April 22, 2012 - 9:49 pm

      Hi Sally! A pinched nerve isn’t fun. Neither are migraines. Was it easier when we all used typewriters, I wonder?

      • #17 by Sally - aka Saleena on April 23, 2012 - 10:21 am

        Probably not. RSI would happen even with a typewriter, I imagine.

        And before typewriters we used to get eye-strain reading books for our research by candlelight! :D

  8. #18 by Carol Riggs on April 23, 2012 - 3:40 am

    Oh no! I hope your RSI is healing well. I had it bad on my wrists 2 summers ago–I could barely brush my teeth or hair. It was frustrating because I couldn’t write/type! I injured them mowing the lawn with a push mower; the grass was way too high. Even now my wrists get fatigued easily, and I have to be careful how much time I spend at the computer. And mowing. ;o) Take care!

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