Writing is a sedentary occupation. If a full-length book is 100,000 words, and a good target would be to write a thousand words per day, then one draft manuscript equals one hundred days sitting in front of a screen, tapping away at a keyboard. Say it takes as long again to revise the manuscript, then that’s a further hundred days sitting in front of a screen cursing, hitting ‘delete’, and tapping away at a keyboard. Which means one story represents about eight months’ worth of brain strain and physical inactivity. Some writers are quicker, some slower, but based on my limited experience that feels realistic.
I’ve always been fairly good at incorporating activity into my daily routine – I don’t drive much, I’ll walk wherever possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator – but now I don’t have to travel to an office any more my daily commute is to walk downstairs to the kitchen for juice and coffee, and then back to the sofa to turn on my laptop and get to work. I’m not complaining (far from it), but when I read this article on the BBC website about the potential benefits of standing instead of sitting, I immediately thought it was something I should try for myself.
I did a little desk research and found that another, more extensive, case study had been undertaken by the CDC in 2011. The limits of the study are clearly explained, but the potential benefits are more than increased calorie burning and weight loss. I’m all for that, but even more I’m up for reducing the stress on my back and neck, improving my mood, and reducing the risk of heart disease by changing the way my body manages blood sugar and triglycerides.
I don’t have an expensive ergonomic workstation, but there is a sideboard next to my preferred corner of the sofa. It’s just the right height for me to stand naturally and type without stressing my arms and shoulders. I like to work on a lap-top, so it’s relatively easy for me to stand up, move the lap-top to the sideboard, and write that way for a while. I’ve been experimenting and have discovered that I can stand up and write comfortably for about 20-30 minutes, so I’m setting the timer on my phone for an hour (sitting) followed by half an hour (standing). It’s early days, but so far I’m finding it physically easier on my body than sitting for long periods, and as an unexpected bonus the act of breaking my writing time into defined segments seems to help my concentration. If it continues to go well, I’ll try to extend the standing period until I find a mix that suits me. I like the idea of achieving an equal balance of standing and sitting, but we shall see!
Have you ever tried to write standing up? Would you consider giving it a go?