Changing the Way I Write

Recently I experienced a problem with extremely dry eyes. It took day and night drops as well as using a heated eye mask twice a day before the problem improved. They have tended to be dry for a long time now, but I think the problem was exacerbated by increased screen use during the pandemic. As well as using a PC all day, I was also attending Zoom events and chatting to family and friends by video call.

Consequently, I have had to change the way I work in order to reduce screen time. I have also stopped the Zoom events and video calls apart from the odd exception.

Obviously, as an author who spends most of the day typing on the computer, this has presented some challenges so here is how I got round them. 

  1. I basically type with my eyes shut. I’m a touch typist anyway, which is fortunate, but it still means I have to peek at the screen every now and again to make sure the text hasn’t misaligned.
  2. I no longer check my work as I go along. I used to recap each day by reading over the previous day’s work and editing it as I went along. As well as enabling me to correct my work, it also put me in the right frame of mind ready to write. Now, I just refresh my memory by having a quick scan over my sequence of events document where I list what has taken place in each scene.
  3. When I reach the end of the document, I review it by using the speech function on Word. This means I don’t have to look at the screen constantly. If I hear something that doesn’t sound quite right, I pause the speech and check the document, making any necessary changes. It still means I have to look at the screen but I’m not looking at it as often. It has its disadvantages because sometimes a word sounds in context even thought it might be spelt incorrectly, and the pronunciation on the speech function isn’t always spot on. However, I have the back-up of the spellchecker.
  4. With my latest novel I am putting it to one side for a few weeks, as I always do, ready to make a final check of it before sending it back to my publishers. Again, I won’t be reading it on screen. Instead, I will use Calibre software to transfer it to my Kindle and read it through while making notes with a pad and pen regarding any changes I want to make. My Kindle is one of the old types that doesn’t have a backlit screen and is therefore much kinder on the eyes. 

I was hoping to take a two week break over the Christmas period to give my eyes a total rest but, alas, I have just received the proofread version of my forthcoming novel. I’ll therefore be thinking of ways to tackle it without wrecking my eyesight in the process.

Of all the screens I use, I have found my phone to be the worst of all, even though I have changed the settings. It has made me realise the damage that modern technology has on our eyes. I’m hoping that my experience acts as a warning to others. If you’re suffering from dry, sore or itchy eyes, cut down on your screen time before the problem gets worse. 




8 thoughts on “Changing the Way I Write

  1. That is a concern, Heather. Hopefully the problem will rectify itself in due course. My right eye has deteriorated recently. With any luck your eyes will get a rest over Christmas.

  2. As you know, I’ve had problems with my eyes too. Checking on kindle is definitely the best way – easier on the eyes, and I find I pick up on more issues than I do reading the word doc. Setting a times to take at least 10 minutes an hour away from the pc works well for me too.
    Have a restful festive season!

  3. Hi Heather, I’ve been suffering from Dry Eye, for a few Years now. I have been prescribed Eye Drops that I need to Use, 8 x per Day. Alongside, Eye Gel every night. Unfortunately, it is not getting any better. It worries me. Also, I often contemplate why it is named, “Dry Eye”. My Eyes are constantly running. Lol It is a terrible Condition to suffer with. I am so sorry you are experiencing it. You are a Brilliant Author. Kind Regards Wendy Davies.

    On Fri, 18 Dec 2020, 18:42 Heather Burnside Author, wrote:

    > heatherbwriter posted: ” Recently I experienced a problem with extremely > dry eyes. It took day and night drops as well as using a heated eye mask > twice a day before the problem improved. They have tended to be dry for a > long time now, but I think the problem was exacerbated by ” >

    • Thanks for visiting my blog, Wendy. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been suffering from this awful problem too. I’ve heard about people with dry eyes whose eyes run but mine are dry, itchy and sore. I’ve invested in a heated eye mask from my opticians. It was expensive at £20 but it definitely helps. You have to massage your eyes after wearing it but there is a particular technique which you can find on YouTube.
      I’m glad you like my books – I’m determined that dry eye won’t come between me and my writing as there are so many stories yet that I want to tell. x

  4. That all sounds very sensible, Heather. I used Calibre to prepare my biography to digital download formats and, although it was tricky at first, once I mastered it I was pleased with the results; I found that a basic knowledge of coding was an advantage, though. Cheers, Jon.

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