Sunday, January 20, 2013

writing platform

This isn't about marketing or web pages. I'm referring to the physical platform whereon one writes. Anyone who has spent a zillion hours at a standard desk understands what I mean here. The most expensive ergonomic chair, correct angle between elbow and keyboard, knee and hip and floor--even lumbar pillows--only go so far. After days upon weeks upon months upon years, the back (or legs or hips--writers' bodies differ) no longer likes to sit in a chair. That no longer likes manifests itself as pain. Or worse.
There are companies designing expensive desks with raised surfaces that not only allow one to work while standing, but even to use a treadmill. Last month there was an article in The New York Times on the perils of sitting: decreased body metabolism, rise in cholesterol, risk of developing diabetes.
I don't know about all that. Maybe it's true. Maybe in three years, there will be another study done showing that sitting doesn't cause a rise in cholesterol. But, in the meantime, the ergonomic furniture people will have made a lovely bundle.
I'm trying to avoid sitting for too long because my back tells me I'll end up crippled if I don't provide some variety. A couple of years ago I devised my own inexpensive and shabby--but functional--version of a standing desk. Here it is: my ironing board, which I can raise and lower for that perfect elbow and keyboard alignment. There's room for laptop, pages, a mug. I can easily move it to the window or to the lamp. My back loves it. Me, I shuffle my feet sometimes. Sitting is still more comfortable. But, for this game, the back rules.
Lately, I've been standing so often that I'm considering getting a dedicated writing ironing board. Just the frame. Writing doesn't require heat-resistant padding. Not at the speed at which I write.


  1. I love this. (But I can't imagine writing standing up.)

    1. Saleema, I can't imagine it either. But my back isn't given me any choice.

  2. I've been told (by chiropracter, physiotherapist) to get up and walk around every half hour or so -- even just a few steps will help. Works well when I'm looking for ways to procrastinate but when the writing is going well the aches feel like a small sacrifice. I have, however, started reading over my work and making small revisions while standing. Still, the sitting is a hard habit to break. I'm sure my writing brain is directly connected to my sitz-bones.

  3. What a great word--sitz-bones!

  4. I first heard it in yoga class. One is always being asked to align them. :)

  5. I have been listening to the studies on this for a few years and it really worries me- I thought I was being so healthy- doing my exercise in the morning and then going to work where I sit all day, but apparently I'm less healthy than someone who doesn't exercise but also doesn't sit down all day. So I have this thing (which I am totally blanking on the name now) which shuts down my computer every half hour for three minutes so I am reminded to get up and walk around. I also try to do all my editing standing up...At the end of my work day my legs are always swollen to twice the size they were in the morning- this worries me.
    I love the ironing board! What a good idea!

  6. Me, too, Lina, I wonder about legs swelling. All those stories about people who stand for hours at their jobs and end up with varicose veins. But I don't really stand stock still. I shuffle back and forth. And of course I still sit. I mostly aim to vary my position as much as possible, given that writing is a static body act.