Monday, July 27, 2009

The Writer's Headache

As a member of that club that spends much of the day squinting at a screen, I am prone to the kind of headache that starts right behind the eyes and then dwells in the lower forehead, ominous as a cloud. At this time of year, the headache risk is exacerbated by the allergens in the air, which dry out my eyes and make my contact lenses uncomfortable. If I take out the lenses too late, BOOM. The headache is there and it's not leaving.

The problem with these headaches, aside from an annoying low-level pain, is that they prevent any sort of creative endeavor. I can't write, can't read, can't even summon the energy to pay bills.

The headache is resistant to Advil and massage. We cannot kill the monster with these weapons, as a wise man once said.

For me, then, the writer's headache is a more serious threat than writer's block.

Does anyone else experience this phenomenon?

9 comments:

Gary Corby said...

That doesn't sound like fun. I've got a few suggestions, all of which you may already have tried.

Check the refresh rate on your screen. Sometimes if it's low it causes subliminal problems.

Check to make sure the screen isn't malfunctioning! Sometimes the image might be doing minute wobbles which you don't consciously notice, but which your eyes track.

Stare into the long distance for 5 minutes out of every hour.

Good luck!

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Gary! Are you an optometrist?

Gary Corby said...

I'm not even remotely an optometrist! But I've spent about 25 years staring at computer screens, both programming and writing, and I've used just about every screen from the dear old VT100 to the latest plasma extravaganzas. Some of the rotten screens, particularly cheap CRTs, could give anyone eyestrain.

Some people are *really* sensitive to subliminal flicker from low refresh rate. Recent screens solve the problem by not giving you a choice and are simply set to their optimal.

If there are powerful electric cables close to your screen then the stray electromagnetic field can wobble the image. CRTs suffer from that badly; LCDs are mostly immune, but then with them you need to check for pixel death. If enough pixels are dead your eyes can struggle trying to see something which isn't there.

Someone told me the staring trick long ago and it works well for me.

Julia Buckley said...

That is very interesting! I will try that out.

Julia Buckley said...

Gary, can you e-mail me at julishka@sbcglobal.net? I want to ask you a question. :)

Celia said...

I get headaches if I go more than 5 days without writing. It can be a journal entry or pages for a novel I'm working on, but without writing, the pressure in my head keeps building. No pain killers work. I have even tried being in a pitch black quiet room with warm compresses on my head. Nothing works.I always wondered if I was the only one who suffers from this.

L. S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L. S. said...

I get these too. Take an excerdrin migraine and an alergly pill. Now drink lots of water and eat a can of peacges in juce. If possible take a nap no alarm set just sleep. When it goes away your body will wake you up. Now you can get back to writing. Pay attention to how your eyes ferl if they start to ake again, take a break. All that bright light for hours on end can make your eyes sore and lead to making a headake/migraine worse. Your bodys demanding a break listen to it. Hope you feel better.

L. S. said...

I get these too. Take an excerdrin migraine and an allergy pill. Now drink lots of water and eat a can of peaches in juice. If possible, take a nap no alarm set just sleep.

When it goes away , your body will wake you up. Now you can get back to writing. Pay attention to how your eyes feel if they ake again, take a break. All that bright light for hours on end can make your eyes sore and lead to making a headache. Your body is demanding a break listen to it. Hope you feel better.