Did you know that sitting for more than four hours every day increases your risk of suffering from a chronic disease and reduces your life expectancy*? Now that’s alarming considering how glued we are to our desks and computers, to restaurants, cafes, and pubs, to cars and buses and couches. Writers are especially at risk of sitting too much. Whether we type or handwrite, we usually work at a desk or table, and whether we create or revise, we can lose the notion of time for hours on end. I certainly do. Now, getting up every once in a while and doing some stretching, some bouncing, or at least some moving about the house does help, but what is even more healthy and effective is writing standing up, if not every day, then at least several times a week.
Hemingway, Nabokov, and Lewis Carroll** used to write standing up, and so do I, so you can do it too, gracefully. Writing standing up on your own two feet may sound a bit strange, but it doesn’t take long getting used to. You don’t need to buy a special kind of desk or make any investments whatsoever.
You will need:
a bunch of large and thick dictionaries or other reference books (the thicker, the better)
a stack of paperbacks
an average desk or table
a mouse pad, or some other adequate surface for your mouse
Here’s what I do…
I take my Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, my Great Visual Dictionary, and a few other heavy tomes I have about the house and stack them up one on top of the other until they reach a comfortable height. Then I put my laptop on them. I accommodate my mouse on a stack of about ten paperbacks under an upturned old Kindle e-book reader that I have and whose smooth backplate provides an adequate surface for its gliding, and voilà, Hemingway would envy me.
So long as both the laptop and the mouse at at chest-level, my hands can reach them with ease and my eyes can easily view the screen, making any stooping or other contortions of the back necessary. This is important — if you want to enjoy writing standing up, you must be in a comfortable, naturally erect posture, that doesn’t put any strain on your back. Also, you may want to place your laptop behind a window, like I do, so that now and then you can throw glances at the dynamic image nature paints for you in real time, as well as the interesting persons who walk down the street and who may inspire you. Not to mention that if you want to stalk a pretty or a handsome neighbor from a safe distance, writing standing up offers you an excellent excuse to do so.
It took me an hour or two to get used to writing standing up, so I’m sure that you, too, will get the knack of it in no time. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it, else back pain and aching feet will soon take the fun out of it. Done with moderation, though, writing standing up is a great way to break the monotony of sitting, reduce its harmful effects, and prolong your agreeable existence. But make sure that you don’t stand upright like a statue and grow stiff — move every now and then, stretch a leg, flex an arm, bend a knee, do a pirouette… You’re a writer, aren’t you? You can be as eccentric as you want — nobody will mind you, really.
Will you try writing standing up? If yes, then do let us know how it goes.
PS: I wrote this post upright.