Writer-Artist Ergonomics

Here I am at the the letter E and it’s not difficult to choose a topic: ergonomics.

I’m not going to go on about the (not enough) options out there, despite my daily battle with wrist/arm pain. One of my dearest friends in the multiverse, Natania Barron, has already written what I think is the best post on the subject, and since she writes for Wired’s Geekmom, you can trust her thoughts on the matter.

Like Natania, I write for a good part of my day. The other part of the day, I paint on an older Wacom Intuos. I’m always at my desk.

My desk was a hand-me-down from a local friend. It’s an IKEA Galant and as much as I think it’s attractive in my office—and matches my Billy shelf—it wasn’t made for writer-artists. Even after installing IKEA’s Summera keyboard tray, I was miserable. It’s a short tray and doesn’t quite hold everything I need.


For my tablet, I keep a laptop desk nearby. Seriously: just for the tablet. Hey, it’s adjustable! And forty bucks is a lot better for an adjustable art table than the high cost of other, more easel-like, options.

I have a Macbook, but it’s always attached to a ginormous monitor, so it pretends to be a desktop. I also have a G4 tower on the floor I can swap out when the need arises; it’s old, but it has all of my STUFF on it. And there’s the first-generation iPad… which I use with Corel’s Cinco for Painter.

I currently have two Apple keyboards—and I hate them both. Until it died on me a few months ago, I relied on an ancient split Nu-Form keyboard. I miss that thing like whoa, so I finally ordered Adesso’s Tru-Form. I chose it over the Goldtouch because of my fond, comfortable memories of that old split-key.

But neither the Adesso nor the Goldtouch offered a USB for the mouse. I know what you’re thinking: who uses anything but wireless now? Me. Sometimes.

I own a lot of mice. Really: a lot of input devices. Trackpad, trackball, wireless, and wired… and that’s not even counting the four-button mouse and pen that the tablet came with. Yet, the only thing my hand really likes is the low-profile, adorably round, single-button, often-slighted puck mouse.

Ooh. Someone at Low End Mac who feels like I do!

I have a collection of puck mice from my days working in a computer lab. I love the things so much that, when I ordered my Macbook, my customer note to Apple said: “This Macbook will be used with a puck mouse.” —because I knew, having once worked for Apple myself, that it would give someone over there a laugh. That feature-free little puck hurts my wrist the least. Maybe it’s because I end up using the keyboard shortcuts more with a one-button mouse.

Right now, I’m hoping the new keyboard will help. Plus, I’ve got a little clamp-on mouse shelf for whatever input device I choose to use with it. I also have a selection of gel-filled wrist rests and even microfiber covering my desk chair armrests. Next thing will either be a new desk or at least a better keyboard tray. But ergonomics—man, what a pain in the wrists!


Filed under Art, Life, Technology, Writing

6 responses to “Writer-Artist Ergonomics

  1. I feel your pain. I try to switch it up by raising/lowering my chair, adding a gel wrist pad, taking it away, using the mouse with my left hand, etc. I’ve apparently staved off the pain for the moment, but I don’t doubt it will be back soon with reinforcements.

    • karengadient

      I keep trying to figure what’s really changed, since the problems didn’t kick in until a year ago. I suspect that my previous work in pet grooming (working with scissors all day, poodle-wrestling, etc) might have something to do with it. Well, that, and my stupidly lengthy manuscripts.

  2. I hope it helps, darling. This summer’s been a roller coaster of wrist ills. Contemplating a standing desk at this point, and I still hate this effing Microsoft keyboard that I have at the desk. Somehow I went nine months of pregnancy without issues, and then BAM, back to square one again. *hugs*

    • karengadient

      *hugs* I almost caved in and got the Microsoft keyboard in a local store on a particularly bad pain day last week. The Adesso one can be easily returned if it’s a fail. After that, probably the Goldtouch. Budget, alas! If you do a standing desk, are you going to build one? IKEAhackers has a bunch of Expedit-hacked ones I’ve been debating.

      • Michael built one before. I’m thinking of a hideaway fold up (maybe one or two) that I can stand at, to make room for baby girl. Her room is currently 2/3 office. But if we got rid of the table and installed something at height, away, it might work. We’ll go the hacking way, of course. 🙂

  3. So … I can be a total nerdy’geeky-dork. But all the computer talk is way too much for me lol. (Can I really be a geek without knowing about computers? Hmmm.)

    Anyway, I used to have an ergo keyboard … and it was one of those split ones. Now I have a work laptop…nothing ergo about that!

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