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An illustration for an article on repetitive stress injury gave the letters "RSI" heads and red "pain spots" like you see in many diagrams.

Take time to stretch!

The Artdog Image of Interest

Here’s a shout-out to all the diligent folks who are homing in on the end of NaNoWriMo, National Novel-Writing Month. If you’re a serious participant, you’ve been putting in some long hours at the keyboard. But that means you also are courting repetitive stress injuries, if you aren’t careful. Please take time to stretch! 

Stretch your hands

My son Tyrell Gephardt sent this graphic to me several months ago. I parked it on my desktop as a reminder. It helps me think of it, and also makes a handy cheat-sheet if I forget one. I try to stretch regularly. Why don’t you try these stretches right now?

The illustration "Make time to stretch!" shows seven ways to stretch one's hands to avoid repetitive stress injuries: wrist extension in two directions, Wrist flexion with an open hand and with a fist, stretches with your hand flat against a wall, palms-together then lowering one's hands, and a "shake it out" motion. Take time to stretch!

Didn’t that feel good? Each time I do these I think, “I’ve got to remember these more often!” Then I get busy and don’t think about it till I glance down at my desktop and spot this graphic again.

Stretch your lower back

To be ergonomically sound, there are other stretches you also may want to try. Here’s a post that offers 12 stretches to ease or prevent lower back stress. The illustrations are clear, and the stretches are simple but effective. You can do them in your office, although be advised: some involve getting on the floor. 

Lower back pain is common and widespread. The World Health Organization estimates 60-70% of adults in industrialized countries will experience lower back pain. Why not learn how to minimize that risk?

Stretch you shoulders and neck

Computer work, especially for prolonged periods, causes all kinds of issues, including shoulder stiffness and pain. Here’s a link to an article that offers four simple shoulder stretches you can do at your desk.

Long hours of computer work can also be a literal pain in the neck. The Mayo Clinic has posted an article about neck pain. They included a video to show several stretches that can help you avoid or ease neck pain.

An ergonomic office

On this same theme, I posted an Image of Interest in 2018 that bears repeating. You might want to see my post about what makes a good ergonomic office design. Here are more tips, from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Now that you’re all stretched out and limbered up, it’s time to get back to work! Best of luck to all who take the NaNoWriMo challenge! And for anyone who spends time at a desk, I hope that you, too, will take time to stretch!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to my son Tyrell Gephardt for sending me the “Make time to Stretch!” graphic. I did a reverse-image search via TinEye, and traced it back to Between the Pixels on Twitter. There’s a nice large image available there. The Featured Image is an illustration for an article on Repetitive Stress Injury, or RSI (illustrator not credited).

Will you or won’t you Na-No-Wri-Mo? Here’s something for both sides.

The Artdog Image of Interest 

One more thought as we approach National Novel-Writing Month, AKA Na-No-Wri-Mo. Remember: one week from today, it starts! But I have to admit that this is usually my strategy!

IMAGE: Many thanks for the ever-wonderful Debbie Ridpath Ohi and her Will Write for Chocolate blog, for this cartoon!

It’s getting on toward time. Are you ready?

The Artdog Image of Interest 

Each year in November, it’s National Novel-Writing Month, AKA Na-No-Wri-Mo. Each year in October, I consider participating. Will this be the year?

IMAGE: Many thanks to Errol Elumir’s blog NaNoToons and the Na-No-Wri-Mo organization for the use of this cartoon.

Perfectly set up for Na-No-Wri-Mo

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve got not one, but two projects ideally set up for a Na-No-Wri-Mo style writing blitz

On the eve of the event itself, no less! If ever there were a year when I was perfectly set to participate, this is it.

What is “Na-No-Wri-Mo“? you may ask. That is short for “National Novel-Writing Month.” It’s an annual event, held November 1-30 of each year. Participants attempt to write 50,000 words or more in a month (50,000 words is the minimum length for a novel, according to some definitions and in some genres).

Many participants look upon it as a competition (for well or ill) and for many it provides motivation. I think whatever helps a writer make progress on his or her work of passion is a positive thing.

It’s true that a rare few people actually can write a real novel in a month. For most of us, 50,000 even-semi-coherent words in a month is a stretch, and that’s the point. Na-No-Wri-Mo is designed to push writers beyond their comfort zones and help them achieve more than they thought they could. It’s a creative challenge that is a high bar, but not unreachable.

That’s extremely beneficial for a writer, whether you end up with a novel at the end of the month, or (more likely) with a steaming pile of first draft.

I know I’ve posted this quote from Shannon Hale before, but I thought it was appropriate here.

I have never personally participated in Na-No-Wri-Mo, although I’ve been “Na-No adjacent” for years because I hang out with other writers. Why don’t I participate? 

Mostly it’s because I’m a competition-averse person, and I write slowly. I’m persistent, but not fast. Also, I know myself. Trying to write 50,000 words straight through with no stopping or second thoughts . . . not gonna happen. It would make me nuts.

Also, it’s in November. That might be a time of miserable weather in San Francisco (the original reason for timing it then), but November is the month before Christmas, contains no fewer than three family birthdays for my clan, and it has Thanksgiving in it. NO WAY am I going through November with the minimum of distractions needed to produce 50,000 words!

In November, San Francisco looks like this a lot. No wonder the Na-No-Wri-Mo founders wanted to stay inside!

So, no. I’ll flirt with the idea, but I won’t sign up for Na-No-Wri-Mo this year, either. But I’ll think of the participants often, as I regularly take chunks of time to work on my projects throughout the month, and I’ll be wishing them well!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Wikipedia for the Na-No-Wri-Mo logo file, to Ali Stegert’s “Spilling Ink” blog, for the quote from Shannon Hale, and to Free Tours by Foot, for the photo of San Francisco in November.

The next battle

The Artdog Image of Interest

If you’re tired of Na-No-Wri-Mo posts, I’m sorry–gonna inflict at least one more on you. Because once you get to a certain point in your writing, it’s time to–GASP!–show it to someone else!! It’s pretty scary, because even after all that work, it’s inevitable that it’s not perfect.

Gotta be done. Find someone you trust and hand it over. It’s What Has to Happen Next, on the writer’s journey. Good luck!

IMAGE: Once again, I’m grateful to the wonderful Debbie Ridpath Ohi and her web comic “Will Write For Chocolate,” for this rueful look at the truth of a writer’s life.

Making a good finish of it

November–and Na-No-Wri-Mo (National Novel Writing Month) is almost over. A lot of people will be trying their best to close in on 50,000 words by midnight tomorrow. To cheer them on, today’s post is a collection of wisdom about FINISHING.

A 50,000-word manuscript that has a beginning, middle, and end technically qualifies as a novel, in some genres. For my particular genre, science fiction, the contemporary normal finished length is 90,000-120,000 words, so 50,000 words will get you maybe about halfway there.

But no matter how you slice it, 50,000 words in one month is a prodigious chunk! It’s a noble goal, a major effort, and a valuable milestone. So here’s to finishing your fifty-thou, even if you aren’t “really finished”!

One more thing. Once you’ve finished your 50,000 words–or however many you manage this month–take time to celebrate! Yay! You did it!

ANY amount of words add up to more than you had written before, and every special effort deserves recognition. Just be sure to get back into the chair on December 1, and begin again.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Jeff Goins for the quote images for Bradbury and Lamott, to Happy Monkey for the cartoon about finishing your novel, and to 8 Tracks for the mountaintop celebration photo. 

The finish line is in sight!

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Hang in there, Na-No-Wri-Mo (National Novel Writing Month) participants! You’re almost there!

Even if you’re not shooting for 50,000 words this month or participating in any kind of contest or event, this is still immensely helpful advice.

IMAGE: Many thanks to GoTeenWriters and James Scott Bell for this wise and timely advice!

How’s the writing coming along?

The Artdog Image of Interest

We’re about halfway through Na-No-Wri-Mo (National Novel Writing Month). Time to check in, again . . .

Whether you’re participating in Na-No-Wri-Mo or not, I hope your creative endeavors (whatever they may be) are going well. The creative process always involves frustration–but don’t let that stop you! Keep going!

IMAGE: Many thanks to Debbie Ridpath Ohi, her ongoing comic “Will Write For Chocolate,” and her Twitter feed for this image. It’s always a pleasure, “Inky Elbows”!

Writing is like . . .

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Especially for the “pantser,” I think:

If you’re one of the brave souls who are persisting in the creative challenge to participate in Na-No-Wri-Mo (National Novel Writing Month), then you’ve already long since figured out this aspect of your writing process. To all writers everywhere, Good luck, and keep writing!

IMAGE: Many thanks to Writing Sisters and E.L. Doctorow for this week’s quotation image.

Characters

The Artdog Image of Interest 

Think of it as a casting call . . .

As a tribute to all the writers brave enough to take the Na-No-Wri-Mo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge, I’ve dedicated most of this month’s Quotes and Images of Interest to observations about the writing craft.

IMAGE: Many thanks for this week’s image to Tom Gauld, a wonderful comics artist whose work I encourage you to explore!

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