The challenge of writing with a disability

Hey everyone,

I wanted to start a discussion about a topic that’s been close to my heart lately–the challenge of writing with a disability. Everyone here has commitments outside of writing, that’s normal, but some of us have… an extra challenge, so to speak.

I face some significant health issues that make typing a real struggle for me, and I guess I’m not the only one in this community who deals with such challenges, so I thought it would be great to share experiences and strategies to overcome them.

Let’s start by introducing ourselves and our disabilities (if you’re comfortable doing so). This can help us understand each other’s unique situations better.

I’ll go first: As I mentioned, I have several health issues that affect my motor skills, making typing a slow and painful process. It’s frustrating, especially when I have so many ideas for my current WIP but I just can’t keep writing for the day (or worse, for the week).

The big question here is: how do we overcome these physical challenges and keep our creativity flowing?

  1. Assistive Technology: Share any assistive technology or tools that have been a game-changer for you. Whether it’s speech-to-text software, adaptive keyboards, or specialized mouse devices, it could be helpful to “compile a list” of useful resources!

  2. Writing Habits and Techniques: Do you have any specific writing habits or techniques that make the writing process more manageable? For instance, I’ve found that just taking notes when I’m very unwell helps me to keep it in mind, so I’m able to write huge chunks of text when I’m feeling better.

  3. Mindset and Motivation: Dealing with a disability can be mentally challenging too. Sometimes, I feel ashamed of the depression I routinely fall in, as if the pain is somehow my fault. Depression is an added difficulty to the writing process. How do you stay motivated and maintain a positive mindset? Share your tips and experiences, if you have any!

General encouragement and venting
Lastly, I’ve seen some writing support threads (writer’s block, meeting deadlines, etc.), but nothing related to health and these kinds of difficulties. It would be nice to maintain a space in this regard where one could generally vent or receive (and give) words of encouragement.

I’m looking forward to hearing your stories and insights. Remember, our disabilities don’t define us! :sunflower:

Useful resources

Thanks to @Diadorim’s input, I decided to expand the thread with an external document in which to collect all future suggestions, so that they can be accessed at a glance without having to scroll through and read all future comments.
The document contains a filter to reorder or display only a certain type of resource, and they are divided into “disability,” price, etc.

I hope it can be useful to all of you. Please, feel free to add to the discussion, and most importantly—good luck with your writing!


I’m blind on one eye and close enough to it on the other to make it legal blindness.
It’s frustrating because I liked reading and books on paper are near useless to me now.
It’s easier to read ebooks or online where I can zoom in but that’s a strain on my eye.
If I want to use computers I have to pick high contrast mode and pick the largest font.
I just don’t bother anymore and use phone or tablet instead.
That made creative endeavours a challenge but I have been using Twine a lot or coded Choicescript games with Squircle CE (it has a zoom function that allows me to actually read what I write).
It’s difficult to test Choicescript that way but not impossible.
Sometimes I just have no time or energy left to do anything so I don’t make much progress in writing.


Did you know that there are (and have been) partially or completely blind people who became successful authors?

I knew of Alice Walkers (“The Color Purple”), but here’s an article with other four of them.

I don’t have much experience with vision problems, so unfortunately I can’t be more helpful, but you have all my support!


Thank you for the encouragement :grinning:. It’s something I had to find ways to work around but that’s something everyone has to do if they’ve a disability.
That’s interesting about blind authors. I heard about Helen Keller who was blind and deaf, I think, but so far I didn’t know about Alice Walkers.
You learn something new every day. :blush:


This thread can become a really valuable resource @Daleko – so thank you for taking the time to establish it.

I am not sure what I can offer here, apart from support.

Hopefully, you will be able to keep this an ongoing and active thread.


Thank you @Eiwynn, I really appreciate your support on this matter!


When the chief advisor of the writer support thread shows up to give her support, you know that we have something to build on.

I often show up at the writer support threads. So let me give a quick rundown of my background:

I am autistic. There are other autistic people on this forum and on the interactive fiction community forum, some of which are writers themselves. I took the plunge to create my own WIP, based on the interests that I have currently: Hannah P S’s works (and some of Emily Short’s) and that of the Mega Man X franchise. Thus Maverick Hunter: Scandalous Mission was born, out of the stuff in my head. Having videos play out in my head is still one of the ways I use to craft my story. Get the cutscenes out, the dialogue, and suddenly, BANG!

The challenges are real. Seeing things in mostly black and white is still a pitfall. Being negative is even more of a pitfall. I was hoping to post this on the regular writer support thread as well, but I was too fearful, even though the community there has overall been relatively supportive of my efforts. Eiwynn, Mara, and others. So I posted it on a dedicated thread like this one. And thank you for creating this thread! It’s a good way to boost connections.

Writing has become my destressing hobby, to go into the world I created.

“You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to said happenings”.


Yeah honestly most of what I write ends up extremely dour since I myself am a glaring pessimist. I could never see myself gearing towards something that was light and airy.

I got writer’s monkey, I like using it for typing, I like hearing the sounds fake typewriter options sometimes. Though usually just when I am also listening to music. (I’m autistic / ADHD, for people wondering, though I feel awkward sharing it.)

In regards to aids that I make use of, since I have some pretty severe sensory flare ups, I actually quite enjoy typing with a pair of silk gloves (they are relatively inexpensive if you find them online). While I am not a fan of the seams, they make the act of typing on a keyboard a little less overwhelming in long spans. (Especially in the case of my own keyboard, which while it has a nice ‘twang’ it also has metal keys, as a general rule I don’t like cold metal.)

Honestly though I am just looking forwards to what others end up saying since usually I just go through burnouts / hyperfocus periods and it is not entirely within my control. My therapist recently recommended making a more dedicated schedule to assist in having specific ‘writing’ periods so we are testing that out to see how that works out. Like, periods where I am just dedicated to looking at the page, to actually putting words down even if I don’t want to to work through those periods of ‘disinterest.’

Regarding motivation / depression… Honestly, I generally just tell myself that even if what I make sucks (which is what I naturally assume about anything I make), then it’s one less terrible thing that is left on the list towards making something good. Like, all the failed projects and all of the mistakes that I made are things that I have learned, I don’t have to carry these mistakes I already made into what I decide to make in the future. Writing is naturally explorative, and sometimes we make massive misteps, and I am trying to remind myself that just writing in and of itself is making progress towards being bigger and better.


This probably isn’t as debilitating as what others have, but I have a chronic illness results in swollen joints and muscle weakness, primarily in my hands/fingers and below the hip. It generally results in pretty much no grip strength and minimal joint movement in my fingers. due to the pain of the motion

  1. Its not all the time, but to help with typing, I have an ergonomic mousepad (one with the raised wrist) to help keep my hand flat, since curling my hand is usually near impossible. I usually keep my hand in a brace to keep everything as still and as flat as possible (since it can move, just hurts a lot if my palm is anything but flat). To move my mouse I mainly use my shoulder and entire arm to move it while applying pressure straight downwards (rather than gripping with hand and moving with wrist). Typing is similar, can spread and unspread fingers, but not bend them so, spread fingers for horizontal motion and move entire arm forward and back to go up and down the keyboard. Its a slow going most of the time tbh. If its something super urgent, I have prescription painkillers from my doctor that I can use as needed and power through at regular speed but its still a bit painful. Probably not the best idea but, its gotten me through last minute papers for university.

  2. To be honest, writing kind of helps. When I have flare ups, I can’t really walk very well, so writing, even if its a slow going, is better than doing nothing.

  3. My motivation is mostly based on boredom. When I have flare ups, there isn’t a whole lot I can do. Physical activity is out the window. Laying in bed means I’ll be even more sore whenever I try to get up. Writing while sitting up at a desk and taking proper precautions is something to do that doesn’t leave me bored out of my mind. Since writing is a hobby and theres no rush, I can take things at a comfortable pace and just fill time.

I kind of know that I’ll never finish a project, or even release a demo here since I have difficulty staying with one project for long, but writing is super therapeutic. Its sort of creating your own entertainment and not worrying about anything else going on. Its something I can do, even if I’m limited on most hobbies people enjoy because I can’t do a bunch of physical things.


I don’t know if it’s the same issue, but one of mine is arthrosis that also affects my phalanges! Unfortunately, forcing myself to type doesn’t help, nor does it help typing without bending my fingers (I also suffer from fibromyalgia and osteopenia, which make typing even more painful).

I had heard of compression gloves, but I’ve never tried them.


I don’t know how common knowledge this is so it might not be all that helpful but I have a few recommendations for dictation and organization.

Text to speech: Balabolka. This is a free program that handles it pretty well. I did buy a voice for this program to ease and enjoy listening more bc it impacts my enjoyment a lot but perhaps the free voices can also do the trick for you.

Text to speech and especially speech to text golden standard is Dragon Naturally Speaking. It’s a program targeted for efficiency for many professionals that have to deal with long texts but is especially useful in the writing and translating field and may also be useful to people with disabilities or troubles with typing and minor speech as far as I’m aware.

The geat thing that the program will gradually learn to interpret your personal dictation better over time. It takes effort in the beginning and can be frustrating, but this means that if you write in English but have an accent due to not being a native like me, it will adapt to errors over time, and if you have a (minor?) speech impairment it may also be able to pick up your dictation better over time. I don’t know how great the compensation is for speech impairment but it might be worth researching it.
This also means that it’s easy to implement recognition for unusual names of characters or places etc.

The downside is that is has a very heavy cost probably outside of affordable for many people here, due to being aimed at businesses so get it on sale if you can but they do have a trial version and I can highly recommend to see if it eases your process, or at least has the potential to if typing is almost impossible for you. (to be fair, my sister has it due to being a professional translator, I could not afford this by myself but I still wanted people to know about it)
Do note that you check the price for ‘Dragon Professional Individual’ it knocks of half the price but is still currently €300,- (price may differ in other countries)

If people know of a good free or low cost dictation program that is truly above average, please share!

Another program I would recommend for people who have trouble organizing their story and keep track of it in their mind due to for instance ADHD is Articy:Draft 3 It is specifically designed for interactive narrative be it CYOA or Visual Novels. There is a free version of which the memory limit should be enough for a lot of text-based only projects. Check the licensing of the free version for commercial publication bc I don’t remember that off the top of my head. The RPG Disco Elysium was written in this program.

If you are more visually oriented and want a space to gather your inspirations, impressions and ideas in one place into something more cohesive than a constantly ads interrupted Pinterest board that also supports text and organizatorial aids you can opt for Milanote. It’s really good for keeping all your project stuff in one place. There’s a free version that has a size upload limitation like Articy but it is probably felt quicker due to its more visually oriented style.
It has a monthly subscription but can be very useful for people with trouble in executive functioning.
If you are interested in this program, I kindly request you let me refer you so I can add a little bit of space to my account, we can pay this forward in this thread even :slight_smile:

As you might have gathered I have (very severe) ADD, and I can only function minimally on high doses of medication. I also have a personality disorder, a sleeping disorder and frequent shoulder pain that make it impossible to type or paint for days. The struggle is real. But I hope we can help each other out in this thread!


That’s great @Diadorim, thanks for the suggestions!
Unfortunately, they aren’t very useful for me as I can hardly afford an internet connection (working two jobs–modern society is really wonderful), but I hope someone else can benefit from them.

You have also given me a good idea, and I think I will create a Google Sheets document where I will list all these programs.

I believe Google Sheets is accessible from all countries, but if any of you have difficulty viewing it, please let me know!


Added useful resources to the topic.

All future suggestions will be added to the document, so feel free to keep the thread going!

You’re welcome!

The sheet is a great idea! I’m sorry things are so rough. I’ll try to keep looking for a decent speech to text program that isn’t Dragon and substantially cheaper or free that isn’t infuriating to use.

Slight note: while still very hefty the ‘Dragon Professional Individual’ license is about 300,- so that could be added/amended on the sheet?)

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Could you please link here the Dragon Professional Individual? I wasn’t able to find the discounted price :frowning: