Ergonomics & the Writer by Andrea Merrell

Posted by on Mar 18, 2015 | Comments Off on Ergonomics & the Writer by Andrea Merrell

Ergonomics & the Writer by Andrea Merrell

My guest today is author and editor, Andrea Merrell. If you’re like me, being a writer is often a physically painful process. I really appreciate the advice Andrea has to share with us. I know you will too!

I will be interviewing Andrea and giving away a copy of her latest book, Praying for the Prodigal, on April 17th!


Wandering Wednesdays


Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time and money on orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, physical therapy, massage therapists, and cortisone shots because of poor habits at the computer. What I learned was that once you injure yourself, it takes a lot more than ibuprofen, ice packs, and heating pads to get rid of the pain.

Another thing I learned—unfortunately not soon enough—was that my work station should be ergonomically correct. For far too long, I ignored lower back issues, intense shoulder pain, and headaches. These things could have been avoided if I had learned early-on how to deal with a job that put me at the computer for hours on end, without having to suffer.

According to Merriam Webster’s, “Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” Other sources say it is “the ability to optimize human well-being by designing comfortable, functional, and user-friendly systems.”

In other words, it is using equipment and devices that fit the human body and cause it to function properly and without pain.

I’ve always worked in an office but when I started writing about sixteen years ago, my first desk was anything but ergonomically correct, and my office chair did not fit my short torso and legs. The position of the keyboard and mouse did not support my arms and wrists, and I would sit for hours at a time without getting up and moving around. When I learned that my workstation was the cause of my physical problems, I made the decision to invest in equipment that would work for my body type and work habits. It also became important to break my work into blocks of time and remind myself to get up and take a short break every hour or so.

If you are having trouble with pain and discomfort as you write, here are some helpful suggestions.


Start with a comfortable chair:

Don’t just make do with whatever you have. Invest in a good secretarial or office chair. Go to an office supply or furniture store and sit in every chair they have until you find the one that’s perfect for you. You will be glad you did.

Sit all the way back in your chair and not perched on the edge (like I tend to do).

Invest in a comfortable lumbar support that fits your back.

Put a short stool or footrest under your desk and prop your feet. This takes a lot of pressure off of your back.


A proper desk or workspace is important:

Adjust your chair to your body and the height of your desk or workspace. Most office chairs have levers for this. Make sure your arm rests comfortably on the desk and that your wrists are supported by the keyboard or a wrist support.

Make sure your computer, keyboard, mouse, lamp, and reference material are arranged conveniently. Arrange other things on your desk and put them within easy reach. Be careful about bending awkwardly to get to a book, file, or whatever you might need.

Don’t sit with your hand extended and resting on your mouse for long periods of time. This puts pressure on your arm and can create tremendous pain in your shoulder blades.


Using a laptop:

Working on a laptop wherever you happen to be does not exempt you from guidelines that will help keep your body in good working condition.

Whether you’re in a recliner, sitting on the floor, or propped up in bed with your laptop, be careful not to keep yourwoman working on computer sitting at desk head bent for long periods of time.

Watch your posture and give your hands, wrists, and arms regular breaks.


Other helpful tips:

Don’t sit for hours at a time without taking a break. Get a glass of water, go to the restroom, or simply take a walk around the house or yard for a few minutes. Do some stretches.

Don’t try to work while holding the telephone between your ear and shoulder. If it’s necessary to talk while working, put the phone on speaker.

Do something nice for yourself. Occasionally indulge in a piece of chocolate or your favorite treat.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Invest the necessary time, effort, and money to take good care of your body.


About the author:                                                                                                                                   

Andrea MerrellAndrea Merrell is Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a freelance editor and has led workshops at various writers’ conferences.  Andrea is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and The Gift which are both available on Amazon. Her newest book, Praying for the Prodigal, releases March 25, 2015. To learn more, visit or



Amazon link for Murder of a Manuscript

Amazon link for Praying for the Prodigal

Amazon like for The Gift

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