Some years ago, I hosted a writing course with the above title. I forget why I worded it this way, since the course was certainly not about standing up to write, however, this post is about that very activity – writing standing up.
Ernest Hemingway famously wrote standing up. Even though he apparently had a ‘tower workroom’ which he retired to when the need arose, most of his writing was done standing at a bookshelf in his bedroom with his typewriter on top.
Hemingway wasn’t the only devotee of standing up – Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Philip Roth are only a handful of the many famous writers who’ve pursued the habit. And authors aren’t the only fans: Thomas Jefferson had a six-legged ‘tall desk’, while Otto Von Bismark and Winston Churchill stood up to do specific tasks during their working days.
But there are more pressing reasons for standing to write rather than sitting:
As John Moir pointed out back in 2008 (Poets & Writers),
“Sitting down to write…can actually lead to a decline in mental acumen”
Which is clearly not a good situation for a writer, but recent studies (and there are lots of them) show that standing to write is better for our health – it improves posture, burns more calories, generates a genuine tiredness (so we sleep better) and prolongs life.
Since my day job involves a fair bit of sitting on my butt, I thought it was about time I did something to combat that declining acumen. Now, there are all sorts of ways to bring your writing desk up to a suitable height, but as I don’t have either tools or wood, I won’t be knocking up a workbench in the near future. Neither will I be forking out for one of those gorgeous Varidesks that really are the biz when it comes to standy-up writing.
I do my writing at my kitchen table and as there’s nothing else in my house that’ll give me that additional height, I resorted to that good old standby method of piling-things-up. Admittedly, this teetering tower is not going to work in the long term, but I reckoned it would do as an experiment.
So, did it work? You betcha! Although there were pros and cons as I expected, I was surprised to find it quite a comfortable position, enabling me to get several hundred words banged out before I resorted to my usual butt-on-the-chair routine.
As you can see from the photo, my towering workdesk will have to be swapped for something safer and sturdier, but I think I can say I’m well and truly converted. All I need is an easier method of getting my laptop up to the required height, since any difficulties will (I know) result in going back to the old routine. And that ain’t good