Squall taking a break. I love keeping pics like this on hand to glance at while working. It puts me in a good mood and helps take the stress off.

Last week, I talked about how important it is to take breaks from writing, but that’s easier said than done. Sometimes we have important deadlines we need to make, and while that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a few short breaks, it does mean that we’ll need to stay dedicated to our projects longer than we may like. Because these deadline-driven writing sessions are inevitable, we must find ways to limit the toll they take on us. Though I have yet to truly master the art of taking a break, I’ve picked up a lot of methods that help make writing easier on my mind and body. I’ll share a few of them in this blog post, starting with the practice I’m trying to implement to remind myself to get off my arse.


Set a timer

I’m usually good at keeping track of time, but I find it’s easy to lose track of it while writing, even when I’m on my laptop and have a little clock at the bottom of the screen. Because of this, I’m going to start setting an alarm to go off at various intervals so I know how much time has elapsed. If I use my phone, I can also add little notes, such as to remind myself to hydrate, eat, etc. I haven’t tried this method yet, so I’ll let you know how it goes. I hope it works out because short breaks improve my workflow. 


Change the font

This may be a no-brainer for some, but it didn’t initially occur to me that I could do this when I first switched from pen and paper to my computer. Being on the computer is already a strain on your eyes, but you can reduce that strain when writing by adjusting the font. Play around with different font faces to see which one works best for you (I prefer Times New Roman). Do the same with their colors and sizes.


Change the page color

I used to always work with a white page, but the strain this put on my eyes was phenomenal. I found it was much easier on my eyes to make my page black and my font color a dark yellow. This was especially helpful when working at night.


Change the display color

If your laptop has a dark mode or night setting, your eyes will likely thank you if you use it. I know mine have. Windows has a night mode that allows you to lower the amount of blue light the screen emits. It looks strange at first, but I found the effect to be soothing. Microsoft Word even allows you to change its color scheme, which is wonderful. I set my Word display to black by going to File>Options>General.


Change the line spacing

In all the word processors I’ve used, it’s been possible to change the spacing between lines of text. This can improve readability, especially if you have trouble moving on to new lines because they’re too close together and you lose your spot.


Magnify your document

If large font sizes feel cumbersome, you can use a smaller font but then zoom into and out of your document as needed until you reach a point that works for you. I keep my documents’ zoom levels at 120-140%. It keeps me from squinting, which prevents headaches.


Make your space comfortable

It’s worth setting aside some time to organize your workspace to your liking. Decorate it with things that make you smile. Make sure you have easy access to reference materials. Ensure your seat is comfortable and will help your posture. It’s also good to have your keyboard set low enough that you retain good blood flow to your hands, but not so low that your wrists bend. Keeping your wrists relaxed can help reduce the risk of carpal tunnel, and not having the keyboard too high can increase finger mobility (and thus your typing speed and agility).


Stretch often

Stretching is something that I do a lot. I don’t usually need a reminder for it, but if you do, don’t hesitate to set one up. It’s important to stretch your whole body. Don’t forget your fingers, hands, and wrists. Stretching them regularly can also help prevent carpal tunnel and reduce pain. It’s something I do instinctively now. The exercises I picked up while learning to play the piano help me with my typing. If your fingers feel stiff, try soaking them for a little while in a bowl of warm water. I once read that concert pianists often do this before performances to reduce stiffness. I tried it, and it works. It makes typing easier, too.


I hope these tips help. If you have any to share, feel free to mention them below!