They say that sitting is now the new smoking and as writers – we sit! It may be in front of a screen or jotting down scenes in a notebook, but the majority of our writing time is ‘bum on seat’. As with any job, there are health pitfalls, but the most common for writers are:
Musculoskeletal Disorders. Poor posture, and lack of exercise and movement. Get moving!
Eye/Vision Disorders. Too much screen time, a back light engages your brain but also burns your retinas. Look away regularly or switch off.
Headaches. Excessive screen time, or reading find print. Ensure you have regular eye tests.
Obesity. Lack of movement and too much snacking. Limit sugary and salty snacks and exercise.
Repetitive Stiffness Injuries. Attributed to mouse holding cramps and also typing/writing for long periods. Wrist, arm and shoulder exercises can help.
Stress and Depression. Working to a deadline, revisions and editing – the list is long. Set realistic goals and create step by step targets.
Hearing Damage. This may not be for everyone, but having music or back ground noise at too high a level can harm your hearing. Invest in good headphones for noise cancellation or music and keep the volume at a comfortable level.
Lower Body/Foot Swelling. Sitting for too long can result in swelling and numbness, especially if your chair position leaves your legs dangling, or footwear is not supportive. Ensure your chair is positioned for your height so your feet are firmly on the floor and wear supportive footwear.
Blood sugar. Remember your brain needs ‘food’ as well as rest. Don’t get to the ‘hangry’ status. Set a timer for meals and drink plenty of water. Hydration is vital.
Be conscious of what your body is telling you.
The healthier you are the better your writing will become – a health body is a healthy mind after all.
I am pleased to be involved, in some small part with this project. I hope this blog will bring awareness of the movie and inspire you all to consider the impact of such an event and the consequences for all. Thanks to Charmaine for asking me for my support.
Back Home Again
By Charmaine Hammond
Have you ever had someone share their big WHY or dream with you and in a blink of an eye it was a “heck yes” to get involved? That was my response when I was introduced to Michael Mankowski, a Fort McMurrayite with a big vision and an important story to tell.
I had lived in Fort McMurray for 15 years. In late 2016, I returned to the community to work on a community recovery and resilience project with the school boards. A colleague suggested, Michael and I connect because we are both writers. Little did I know then I’d be saying “heck yes” to an incredible project.
In a 30-minute conversation, Michael shared the big why behind his vision for an animated film, that would become a conversation starter about mental health. His passion for this project is as strong now as it was when his idea was storyboarded five years ago.
Back Home Again was inspired by community resiliency, after one of the largest wildfire evacuations in Canadian history, impacted the lives of more than 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray, Wood Buffalo in 2016. Told through the eyes of the woodland creatures that inhabit the land of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Back Home Again has an all-star voice cast, who donated their time to the production, including Jeremy Renner, Martin Short, Kim Basinger, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Michael J. Fox, Howie Mandel, Ed Asner, Lorne Cardinal, Gordon Pinsent, Mena Suvari, Bill Burr, Tom Green, Norm MacDonald, Harland Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Marlon Wayans, Scott Thompson, and Tantoo Cardinal. The film will launch in September 2021.
Michael wanted to make this film because he grew up in Fort McMurray and was there when the tragedy hit. “I wanted to show the world how a community could come together and rebuild. I hope this film sparks conversations everywhere about how we are all one global community, and we all need one another.” Now, more than ever this local story with a global message could not have a more perfect time given what the world is living in and navigating through with a global pandemic. The film will be supported by mental health resources that are being co-created by Canadian Mental Health Association.
This film and project is rooted in community and collaboration, in fact, that was a big part of the reason that I was a Heck YES! A number of partners, sponsors, contributors, social ambassadors and community champions came together to bring this philanthropic film to life in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Red Cross. “The arts are fundamental to the human experience and are integral to healing and restoring well-being post-trauma. The truth of that statement shone through the events of 2016, through the community coming together as one, through subsequent hardships and recovery, and once again through this animated feature, Back Home Again” says Liana Wheeldon, who is the Executive Director of the Arts Council Wood Buffalo. This Heart of Back Home Again video, provides a great overview https://youtu.be/hw7YwU0pjY0
I always say “it takes a team to raise a dream” and Back Home Again and Michael’s commitment to his vision, is living proof of what happens when passion, purpose, powerful stories and people come together.
1) How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing most of my life. Only recently, during COVID honestly, did I realize that it was something that I wanted to pursue professionally and for a career.
2) What inspired you to write Dear Monica? My mom went through some really hard, tough mental health stuff and that was my inspiration. A mind place and setting with a romantic twist. I think it’s interesting for people who don’t understand mental health to read something of someone in that spot.
3) Why did you decide on the format of letters to tell the story? When thinking of mental health suicide often comes up and is at the forefront of mental health, with that idea, letters came to mind.
4) The core of the novel is the mental health of its main character – is this a subject you feel strongly about? I do feel strongly about mental health, especially in the male community. I think mental health has a stigma for men and that’s something I hope to chip away at with my career.
5) Is Charlie based on anyone you now? Charlie and Monica are a combination of people that I’ve known in my life, whether a friend or significant other, they’re the best parts of people I knew.
6) Has your Army career influence any of your writing? My army career has greatly helped me with the structure of writing. I consistently schedule my time to write and stick to it, even if I hate what I wrote in that time I have something to go off of. My army career also helped me and opened my mind up to a lot more in this world than I originally thought.
7) Having acting experience yourself, can you see your book being made into a movie? I could definitely see Dear Monica being a movie. Since I am an actor, I usually write from a point of visual and what I see in my head as I write.
8) Do you use the places you have visited as part of your narratives? Yes, I would say 95 percent of the places I write about I have been to. I don’t particularly feel honest writing about something I don’t know, so I try to stick to what I do.
9) Are you writing a new manuscript currently? I am, I have on a novel, “Yours, Only” with the editor now, and my other one “Little Red Card” is 2/3 of the way through its first draft.
10) Can you tell us about any new projects, events or presentations you have coming up? My newest projects are both very interesting. “Yours, Only” is another project that’s a collection of letters between a soldier and his young wife back at home. the letters follow his missions, while he battles with his own demons he’s creating and his life back at home. “Little Red Card” is a pandemic-based romance that I am really excited about.
11) Has the COVID19 restrictions impacted your writing life? If so how? My acting career got put on pause at the beginning of COVID and I really started writing seriously because I needed a creative outlet. I wouldn’t have a novel without Covid.
12) Where is your most favorite place to write? I love to write in central park. I’ll take my laptop out there and write until it dies, that usually enough for a day.
13) How can readers connect with you? My IG is @samdavel
14) Is there a message you would like to give to your readers? I think I would just like to tell my readers that they can do whatever they want. Anything is possible and that people are there for them if they need them.
BIO: Samuel Davel grew up in rural Wisconsin leaving home at 18 for the Army. In the Army Sam was an Airborne Ranger who was constantly taking in the world around him. After leaving the Army Samuel moved to NYC while pursuing a career in film and television. After appearing on the small screen and doing numerous indie works Samuel started writing about the world he absorbed throughout his life. He enjoys writing story’s that have mental health twist or ones that don’t always end in happy endings, at the end of the day, life doesn’t always end happy. Samuel tries to capture the small moments, the ones that everyone can easily take for granted.