The Dead Pool (Health)

How Wearables Make You a Better-And Healthier-Writer

Wearables help writers remember to take breaks, among other things
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Once upon a time, writers disappeared into caves and didn’t emerge until they’d finished a manuscript. No phones. No contact with the outside world AT ALL. But times have changed. While we aren’t huge on social interaction, most of us have at least wearables that chime when a new email comes through. Or it beeps to let us know when something fascinating starts trending on Twitter. And disrupts our writing process. A THOUSAND TIMES A DAY! But I digress. As irritating as those bits of technology are, they can work FOR your writing when deployed CORRECTLY. Instead of against it.


Now, I’m not going to espouse the merits of one company over another. And I’m not an affiliate of anyone (so I don’t make any money if you choose to rush out and buy a specific wearable after reading this). But the spectrum runs from simple to why-do-you-even-own-a-phone:

  • Track heart rate
  • Monitor pulse oximetry (the measure of oxygen in your blood)
  • Record steps
  • Estimate stairs climbed
  • Record calories burned for various activities
  • Monitor sleep patterns
  • Alert you to heart arrhythmias
  • Forward text messages
  • Scan social media feeds
  • Play music

You get the idea. It’s the closest we’ve yet come to Star Trek technology. And they look snazzy on your wrist. (More so than those itty-bitty calculators nerds sported in the 80s)

With a weekly charge (or so – it depends on how much you use it), you have a rough monitor of your life functions and the basics of your phone. And the bonus of a demanding coach who “yells” at you when you fail to meet certain milestones. (Unless you’re the lazy type who decides to disable such things. I won’t judge you)

Making Wearables Work for Writers

Now, the OBVIOUS use of wearables is to get healthy. Or to at least pretend you’re getting in shape. The attached app has you achieve goals, close rings, whatever. And it helps you develop a guilt complex when you fail to meet your steps/calories/water intake.

Crude? Maybe, but that’s what you’ll exploit as a writer.

Even the most basic option allows you to set alarms for movement. However often you program that reminder, it will buzz or “sing” to you to get off your butt. And that’s your cue to save your work (ALWAYS save your work!) and do SOMETHING. Up to you what that looks like so long as you’re getting the blood flowing to your limbs.

(And, no, it’s NOT easy to ignore that irritating presence on your wrist. I’ve tried)

It’s different than an alarm on your phone, which people are incredibly adept at snoozing or ignoring. Something about those rings or milestones (I think it’s the inner gamer in us) goads you into action. You WANT to reach your goal and check off an accomplishment. So you’re willing to push your chair back and have a mini dance party. Or walk around the block. (Hint: Both will add up the steps)

And you CAN’T snooze the reminder. It just comes back, more insistent. So you HAVE to take that break.

Kind of genius.

The Heartbeat Method

The other way writers can employ wearables is to watch their heart rates while they work. This is especially helpful when you’re in the middle of a suspenseful or action-packed scene. Because if YOU aren’t feeling your pulse jump while you’re writing, your reader won’t either. And that’s an epic fail.

So prop your phone near your screen so you can see it out of the corner of your eye while you type. And then dive into the chapter. Does the number start climbing? Fantastic! That means your scene is intense. (Remember, you’re sitting at rest, so your body isn’t working hard to keep you functioning)

You can do the same thing for other scenes, watching to see if your pulse slows down.

Are your meditative chapters calm? Or do you see erratic jumps in heart rate? Maybe you need to smooth out the dialogue. Or your sentence structure could need some work. But that little monitor can help you figure out the problems. And it’s not doing anything more than it would normally.

Put Your Wearables to Work!

I admit: I don’t have a fancy wearable, just a lonely Fitbit Charge. But I can’t stand the thought of someone being able to call or text me when I’m out for a walk. (If I’m “not available,” I’m NOT AVAILABLE!) All I wanted was an activity monitor that could help track my (woefully inadequate) sleep.

But it’s enough to ensure I get up and move around throughout the day. And it helps me when I need to check the pacing of a scene or essay. I simply lean my phone against the monitor stand while I write and watch the display. As slow as my bradycardia is, I can still see changes when I get to those juicy action chapters.

And I have a Kardia for when my pulse does weird things. (I haven’t figured out how to put that to work for my writing just yet)

It’s something I picked up for my health but managed to employ in different ways. And that’s what a creative writer DOES. So look at your little space technology and make it work for YOU.

And get off your butt more. (I don’t know a writer who doesn’t need to!)

3 thoughts on “How Wearables Make You a Better-And Healthier-Writer”

  1. Nice post. I have to admit, I’ve been looking at the Apple Watch not because I have a need for it, but because there are so many ‘nice to have’ features, like being able to track my steps every day, and being able to record my thoughts while I’m out on my runs (where I so happen to also have the most ideas). Anyway, thanks for this post!

    1. Recording notes whereever you are is ALWAYS a plus (that should be a mandatory feature for writers, regardless of what tech they’re looking at). And I’m glad this post helped you see things a different way.

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