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Positions for Writers

.....to write in. Of course.


by Alejandro Escamilla, via Unsplash
I read a proposal once, and I dearly wish I could find it to link but this was years ago, that detailed the benefits that would come from introducing standing desks to schools. The proposal suggested that because standing requires more energy than sitting, children would be less antsy and have a higher level of concentration. (Because really, is there anything crueler than forcing a seven year old to SIT all day?)

As writers, we tend to sit. A lot. It's rough on our backs, bad for our posture, and decreases alertness. And we need to stay alert! Who knows what that antagonist is going to pull next?

photo by cmcbrown
Standing desks are a great choice, but can be pricey if you aren't sure how you feel about it. Before purchasing one, check out my friend Seth's piece on Happenchance, where he explains his thoughts after 3 months of using a standing desk.

Maybe you don't want to buy anything new, but you're ready to change positions. (Why does everyone giggle when I say that?) Here's a few suggestions:

1. Write at the kitchen counter, or better yet, bar (if you've got one.) Okay, this doesn't help the hunching. But it puts you on your feet, which helps create a sense of engagement - and we tend to burn up to 50 calories more per hour standing instead of sitting!

2. Write at the window. A view of the outside world can do wonders for reducing that reclusive writer feeling. Improvise with a writing surface – use a music stand, a high stool, the back of the sofa. Face the great outdoors (whether you've got a view of a park or a parking lot) and write.

3. Write on the treadmill. They make treadmills for writers, but a regular one will do! Most treadmills are designed to rest a magazine or book within seeing distance - why not a notebook? No worries about handwriting; if you're anything like me it's probably legible only to you, anyway.

This might sound uncomfortable, but keep in mind, you don't have to write on your feet for hours at a time to enjoy the benefits. Next time you're hunched over your desk or curled up on the couch, frustrated at the lack of progress on a tough scene and needing to stretch your back, just get up, grab a notebook and head to the counter, the window, the treadmill, wherever, for fifteen minutes. Chances are it'll do both your body and your story good.

Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

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21 comments:

  1. This might explain why I find I like to get up and act out dialogue between characters or walk around thinking after a few hours.

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  2. Good lord, that's so scary I need to lie down.

    wait.

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  3. With my recent manuscript, I've started a habit of standing in the kitchen to type, and I find myself able to concentrate better. I feel actively engaged when I'm writing, and I don't feel as tired, so I can write more. I really, really encourage writers to consider standing and writing.

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  4. Oh, and I put the battery into my computer. My goal is to stand and write until the battery is down to 5%. Works wonders on motivation, and I have to stand for a couple of hours.

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  5. Dang, Elizabeth - that's a cool trick, and pretty hardcore! Great advice.

    Margaret - love the idea of acting out dialogue!

    Kate - *hands cold washcloth*

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  6. Adore this post. I told my boss the other day that I wanted to get a standing desk, and she looked at me like I was crazy. Now I have backup. Thanks!

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  7. oh my god. OH MY GOD. that was frightening.

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  8. ...I may never sit at a desk again...

    O_o

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  9. OK that was scary. Going outside now.

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  10. Mission to terrify YA community complete. :D

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  11. I hate sitting, but I have a desk job. I hate sitting, but I love to play video games! I hate sitting, but I love to write. Now, here's to find creative ways to do all these things while somehow not sitting.

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  12. I work with Head Start (a program for low-income and at-risk preschoolers) and we have an "I am moving, I am learning" initiative because of all the research not only on childhood obesity, but how oxygen stimulates the brain. And for some reason, your brain takes in a lot more oxygen when you're standing.

    Thanks for helping me connect my training with writing!!
    erica

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  13. I just got an exercise ball chair at work and I'm loving it for computer work. Apparently because it engages the core it isn't as bad as sitting in a normal chair. Plus when you need an energy boost, it comes with a book full of mini workouts. Usually though I write outside foras long as the weather permits - nothing like sun and fresh air to get my creativity going.

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  14. While reading that, I stood up and knelt on my chair (just put my knees on it) instead of sitting. Though I did take one leg down, at one point.
    Thanks! Definitely interesting!

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  15. Wow! I didn't know sitting was so bad. I'm a teacher so I alternate between sitting for hours and not sitting for hours.

    But I'll make a conscious effort not to sit as much.

    And to exercise more.

    Thanks. :)

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  16. I'm going to wiggle my legs around a bit now!

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  17. amazing graphic!
    I love this post Michelle.

    I recently bought a digital voice recorder with the idea that I could start being more active while I plot. It takes a lot of effort, though, to change habits. (Not to mention I have to get over looking crazy as I walk around talking to myself).

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  18. Thanks, you guys! So glad this was helpful. That infographic scared the piss out of me too, lol.

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  19. I'm giggling because I'm reading this post while standing at the makeshift computer station I've created using my toaster oven and kitchen counter. The sink stinks of dirty dishes, but at least I'm standing. I've been doing this for almost a year now :)

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  20. That *IS* a terrifying infographic. I think I'll save it to my computer.
    I wish I'd read this post a few weeks earlier. I just rearranged my room and set my desk in front of my window. It's a short desk, unfortunately--not only can I not stand in front of it, my chairs are too tall so I can hardly sit in front of the thing.
    Time to go shopping...

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Item Reviewed: Positions for Writers Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman