Writing with Dyslexia and Carpal Tunnel

I’ve been writing for 12 years now. I have carpal tunnel, back problems, and neck problems. And carpal tunnel. Oh yeah, and dyslexia. Did I mention carpal tunnel?

That’s right, I’m a writer with carpal tunnel and dyslexia. And I do pretty well at my job, but some days it’s no fun.

My dyslexia holds me back to an extent, but it’s that pesky pain in my hands, fingers, wrists, and forearms that gets me. Sometimes I feel like I’m destroying my body in the name of my career, and when I think about my mother’s carpal tunnel surgery from a few years back (she’s a career accountant, so lots of keyboard time), I know I’m right.

I learned to deal with my dyslexia awhile ago, and with Grammarly Premium I’ve had a much easier time weeding out the mistakes it causes. No, this isn’t sponsored, and I get nothing if you click that link, but Grammarly had made me quit looking like such a dope to my clients who don’t understand dyslexia.

If you also don’t understand dyslexia, my husband (fellow dyslexic writer) wrote a great blog post that’ll fill you in.

Making a Hard Call

Recently, I made a decision. I’m going to change my career.

I just restarted my writer’s blog, and now I’m making a post about wanting to change careers? Well, kinda, but it’s not what you think. I’ll still be a writer, but I’m going to branch out into work that’s less taxing on my hands and better supported by dyslexia.

I’m planning to start offering photo editing services, graphic and logo design, and even animation. I’m also going to start training as a yoga teacher (as soon as I can, not yet though), and digging into passive income sources.

This is a hard call for me because it means spending long hours studying/improving new skills, spending money on training, and starting at the bottom with these things. But I can’t write forever. My hands will quit on me eventually if I don’t do something different soon.

For those who are thinking that a dictation program would solve my problems: I’ve tried. A few times, actually, because the carpal tunnel thing isn’t new. My dyslexia doesn’t get along with dragons.

How I Cope with Carpal Tunnel

I wasn’t the best to my body when I started writing from home. I was a teenager and would spend all day slumped in my bed against the headboard, staring down at my laptop, typing. Before that, I was prone to 12-hour days on PC games like Morrowind, though funny enough, I did this at a desk with better posture…

I’m including this section for anyone with carpal tunnel setting in because I could’ve used a quick list like this when I started. FYI, I believe that if anything hurts while you type, you should probably also follow these tips. Just sayin’.

Fix Your Ergonomics

You might not have the money for a fancy standing desk or a futuristic workstation chair (I’m saving up…), but you can afford my setup and plenty of other alternatives. I use two yoga blocks from TJ Maxx to elevate my laptop screen to eye level, a Bluetooth keyboard on my kitchen table, and a Bluetooth mouse that uses my journal as a mousepad.

Is it fancy? Hell no. But it works, and my carpal tunnel pain isn’t as bad anymore.

Do Yoga

I do yoga every morning, and I take time to do yoga for my hands at least once a week. This has helped TONS. Here are a few more great videos to keep your hands healthy. Try them!

Take Breaks

Do you ever notice the gradual creep of your shoulders to your ears as you write? The onset of tension while you trudge through a tough project? Or the tension building in your hands? This is why I take breaks at least four times per day, but preferably every hour.

I get up, clean, have some water, make a snack, go outside, or even just talk to my husband about work while we stand in the kitchen. When I sit back down, my hands, back, and neck are feeling much better. And my brain is grateful for the rest.

So, What Now?

Carpal tunnel advice aside, I’m excited for this new chapter of my career. I am changing my career, but I am not changing careers. My job will be different, but I’m not saying goodbye to my writing clients any time soon. In fact, I’m currently taking on more writing/SEO clients, looking for editing work, and increasing the hours I work every week.

Despite having more work, I’m feeling higher levels of excitement about my work than I have in years, and it’s fantastic. I highly recommend changing your career without changing careers.

Tips for Working at Home

I’ve worked at home for eighteen years, but I’m not even thirty yet. Let me explain…

At 12, I was making thousands per year selling handmade masks on eBay.

At 13, I was training dogs as a side business.

At 14, I earned a Personal Trainer/Nutritional Specialist certification.

At 15, I finished my online high school courses.

At 16, I graduated online high school and enrolled in online college for interior design.

At 16, I also started working as a writer for local health and fitness businesses.

At 18, I dropped out of college and started working full-time as a writer.

At 22, I added project management, editing, SEO, and social media to my job description.

Aaand now, at 28, I’m writing this post.

Working at Home is Hard

Even after being my own boss for my entire life, and completing high school online, working at home is hard.

It’s hard to motivate yourself. It’s hard to wear all the hats at once as an entrepreneur. It’s hard to find new clients. It’s hard to choose the path less taken.

How to Make Working at Home Easier

I’m not a millionaire, and I still work all week, but I’ve found some secrets that make working at home easier. If you’re working through stress and life’s many demands, same as I am, maybe my tips will help you too.

Fight the Urge to Rework Your Schedule Every Month

When I first started working athome, I redid my schedule all the time because things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. This year has been hard, I fell back into the habit a bit, and I paid the price.

Instead, make one good schedule that’s flexible enough to accommodate your scope of work. Stick with it for at least 100 days. The 100-day rule is from Mark Manson, and it changed my life.

After 100 days, THEN you can draft up a new schedule. That’ll help build habits and force you to adopt more mental discipline.

Pay Attention to Your Diet, Hydration, Sleep, and Exercise

If you’re not getting enough sleep, eating right, drinking enough water, and exercising often, your mind isn’t up to par. I’m not judging; it’s science.

I aim for between eight and nine hours of sleep, two liters of water (approx. 70 oz.), a 50% raw vegan diet, and daily exercise.

Find similar goals that work for you and prioritize them. When you quit living on junk food and being sleep deprived, everything changes. Trust me.

Find an Organization System You Love

I read Getting Things Done (GTD if you’re a cool kid) and started using Nirvana thanks to the suggestions from r/productivity. It helped me rework my organization system and find a way to stay on top of life.

Whether you end up with a comprehensive day planner like the Law of Attraction one I use, head to Nirvana, or invent something new, find a way to keep track of things that makes you happy. You’ll be much more likely to use your trackers if you like them.

Apply the first tip, though, and don’t give in to trying a new system every time you see a dip in productivity. Stick with one system and make it work, even if you start to dislike it, for at least 100 days. Then find something better!

Use a Dedicated Workspace

This verges on advice everyone’s heard before, but if you can make a dedicated workspace, do it. I work from a kitchen table, but I don’t ever sit here to do anything but work. Until I have an office, that’s my workspace.

When you settle into your workspace, you help provide productivity triggers just like going into an office can.

I’ve heard it’s even better to have a computer you use only for work, but that’s not practical for me right now. I just keep my space clean and bright and respect my work when I sit down to do it.

That’s All for Now!

Yeah, I could go on with several more tips that have helped me, but they’ve been done before. These are my personal keys to success, in addition to the usual advice.

Share your own keys in the comments! Even if they’re “the usual,” I’d love to hear them! I mean it, I can always use new advice from new people. 😊