The Standing Desk: A Writer’s Perspective

The typical, or maybe fantastical, writing set-up usually involves a desk, a chair, a clear surface, paper and pens (plural cause you’ll be burning through them), or maybe a laptop, no powercord of course, pristine. I don’t know anyone who writes like this. Most writing usually involves a cluttered desk stacked with books, papers, cups, bills, junk mail, a million pens buried underneath it all, and that one sock you can’t find the match to. Or maybe a tiny table at a coffee shop with your laptop next to your latte next to your muffin next to your notebook next to your smartphone. Or maybe you write sitting on the couch with syndicated TV shows on in the background, a kitten curled next to you and nag champa wafting through the air. Now, have you ever imagined writing at a standing desk, your feet free to dance to the latest too-embarrassed-to-admit pop star’s album?

standing desk
My standing desk – a workbench with wooden bed risers. Total cost: about $150.

I’ve been using a standing desk at work and at home for the last couple of years as a component of better back health. However, this post is not a rage against sitting and whether or not that’s good or bad for you. In fact, this might just be the first body-positive blog post about standing desks ever to appear on the internetz! I’ve found there are two types of blog posts about standing desks; first, SITTING IS SO BAD FOR YOU WHY WOULD YOU EVER, and second, Be More Productive By Getting Off Your Ass. Both of these fall into that preachy health morality genre that I find repulsive. But they also offer tips for building or buying a standing desk, as well as what your body might experience at first. To be fair, there’s also a “Sitter’s Manifesto” out there too.

As a writer, the standing desk engages my creativity in a much different way than sitting at a desk or on the couch. I can move around, I can pace, I can walk away from the monitor to gather my ideas or work through a thought. I can stretch. I can dance! The world around my body is much more alive and tactile when I’m standing and writing. However, introducing a standing desk to my workflow definitely took a few months. Standing is hard on the feet if you’re not used to it, and I knew from my many previous retail jobs that my feet were gonna hurt. So I started with an hour, then slowly increased my time. I also invested in an anti-fatigue mat, which is a dense foam mat used in commercial kitchens, pharmacies, and at check-out lanes in convenience and grocery stores.

Lifehacker recently featured DeskHacks’ four-week Stand Up and Work Challenge. While the overall tone of this challenge preaches to that health morality, I like the idea of a four-week challenge to get people who are considering a standing desk started in the process. Jesse Noller, a programmer/writer, wrote about his experience after 5 months, finding, “I feel more refreshed; and switching “into work” and “out of work” (meaning, in and out of a task) is easier/more approachable.” Don’t get me wrong, I still sit and write, just not as much. And most (if not all?) public writing spaces like coffeeshops, offices, and libraries, are designed for sitting. And mama needs her lattes.

From Bohemian Hell Hole: “Vintage German Picture Books Are Amazing”

These illustrations are amazing because they’re incredibly detailed. Check more out here and prepare to be momentarily distracted.

There is also a German picture book similar to the slightly disturbing Grimm’s Fairy Tales (not the kid-friendly Disney versions) that relay stories of morality, originally published in 1845. Considered a “bedtime classic,” author Heinrich Hoffman wrote tales of “children who are — with gleeful abandon — immolated, humiliated, and mutilated by men with giant scissors” and many other more gruesome – sometimes fatal – tales. That sounds like a great story to scare the dickens out of children, right? Check out the illustrations here. Proceed at your own risk.

Source: Bohemian Hellhole

From Brain Pickings: More Books on Writing and Reading

An illustration in the 1959 version of The Elements of Style, illustrated by Maira Kalman.

The list of books written about writing or reading is exhaustive and too numerous to even count. Brain Pickings main blogger, Maria Popova chose nine of her favorite books on writing and reading and explained why everyone should read them. A couple that are more well-known are Stephen King’s, On Writing, which Popova describes as “part master-blueprint, part memoir, part meditation on the writer’s life,” and The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk.

Some not so well-known, but still highly recommended books, are How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler, hailed as a “living classic” because “it deals with the fundamental and unchanging mesmerism of the written word.” Another is How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish. Popova says this isn’t just another guide on how to craft your writing, “it’s also a rich and layered exploration of language as an evolving cultural organism.” Perhaps these books aren’t going to be high on your summer reading list, but they are worth the read if you aspire to write and improve in that area.