The Upstanding Writer

I’ve written elsewhere about my habit of standing up to write, but it’s always useful to reconsider ways of working to see if they’re still effective. For the last ten years my day job has been in occupational therapy, a role which involves a bit of driving and a bit of desk work. Long-standing back problems forced me to try a standing desk at work and noticing the difference, I bought one to use at home, too.

Emulating authors such as Hemingway, Winston Churchill and Virginia Woolf, who all wrote standing up, there are plenty of health benefits to the practice. A decreasing amount of back pain and a sense of generally feeling better, is enough motivation for continuing to use the desk.  

Recently, I moved to a four-day week at work after a spell of illness. Diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a condition which has several detrimental effects, one of which is the inability to stay awake and active after eight o’clock at night, for several months I spent less time writing and more time doing those things which didn’t require me to stand up. As the symptoms began to diminish and I started to feel better, I found the extra day at home gave me more time to write. Unfortunately, one thing I haven’t quite got to grips with, is my ability to mimic my day job and work at it for the standard seven-and-a-half hours. Standing up to write can be tiring and it’s certainly a habit that takes a bit of getting used to, so I often find my writing day will include several breaks when I sit and read, sit and watch TV or sit and munch too many vegan biscuits.

My writing desk is the type that can be raised or lowered according to the height of the user, which means it can be used as a normal table if needed. However, having a standing desk doesn’t necessarily indicate a tidy desk. Getting on in years means that remembering those things that are important isn’t so easy, so I’ve got into the habit of decorating my workspace with post-it notes so I don’t forget dates and deadlines. Also, as someone who doesn’t like to throw anything away, I have plenty of clutter to rake through when I need to find that special pen or USB stick that surely was on the desk right in front of me only a few days ago.

I’ve heard some stand-up writers use one of those walking machines so they can go for a five-mile hike while banging out their latest missive. I’m not one of those people. Although walking is a great way to stay healthy, I find it impossible to do anything else at the same time (even talking can be an issue!)

So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your health, keep your spine in its natural position and still create a masterpiece, get yourself a standing desk. You know it makes sense.

(You could also try changing to a vegan diet, but I’m not sure that helps the creative process.)

NB This post first appeared as part of a Blog Tour, via Tizi’s Book Review.

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  2 comments for “The Upstanding Writer

  1. 14/04/2023 at 5:52 PM

    HI Colin, I think I must investigate a standing desk. It might help me too. Thanks for sharing this post.


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