Writing at a Standing Desk

Standing Desk Lends New Meaning to ‘Thinking On Your Feet’MyStandingDesk

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now that reducing the amount of time spent sitting is a move toward better health and longevity. Most Americans spend too much time sitting – in cars, at desks, and in front of entertainment centers, remote in hand.

As a result, we lost agility and strength in the legs and flexibility in the calves, ankles, and outer hips. The abdomen and lower back muscles also weakened when we moved to seated work because backrests encourage us to neglect important core muscles.

Turns out, our fitness level has little bearing on the detrimental effects of sitting. A maximum three hours of sit time daily is the current recommendation, so it doesn’t matter how regimented we are about exercise if we spend the majority of our day in one chair or another. While it’s true that physical activity for 60 minutes or more a day moves us to a physically active status, the bottom line is excessive sitting is bad. Think about this analogy: Smoking is bad for you no matter how much you run. So is a mostly deskbound lifestyle.

What’s more, prolonged sitting reportedly decreases circulation to the brain which harms both creativity and mood. Bad news for writers.

Because standing on your feet all day isn’t good for us either, it’s better to alternate between sitting and standing, But as I shopped for an adjustable workstation, I had to wonder: could I even coax words to paper while standing? Before investing any money I wanted to make sure I could “think on my feet” by rigging up my own trial stand-up workstation.

varidesk-pro-plus-female-model-300x300I double-stacked an old set of Encyclopedia Britannica atop my desk and spent the morning revising a 2,500-word article while standing. It took a little while, but I eventually got ‘in the flow’ and it became easy. My brain forgot all about the body’s vertical status and adequately reworked the piece. but man was I tired when finished. Lesson learned: I can’t write in flip-flops when standing. Get me my running shoes.

The experiment convinced me to buy an adjustable workstation for my desk. I could keep moving encyclopedias around – which would improve muscle tone in my arms – but it looked too Jeff Foxworthy and wasn’t as ergonomically sound as the one I eventually brought home.

What about you? Have you any experience with stand-up work stations?

 

Yoga and Writing: Open Hands, Open Book

Yoga and Writing: Open Hands, Open Book

easyposeEasy Pose in one of my favorite yoga poses because of its symbolism.  Sitting with legs crossed and a hand resting on each knee with open palms turned upward represents an openness to accepting the good that comes one’s way.  Breathing deeply in the pose opens the heart and frees the channels of love to flow both ways — in and out.  It’s a great way to begin or end a yoga practice.

A similar act of symbolism has affected my writing practice.  As I go about my day performing mundane but necessary tasks, I’m often assaulted with writing and marketing ideas.  This is true of anybody who maintains a mental to-do list, no matter our role in life.  But we continue to the next errand or the next email and hope that we’ll recall what we need when needed.  But it doesn’t happen.  We don’t get them all down, those tiny or large epiphanies that flit through our brains on any given day.

Using the symbolism of the Easy Pose as a springboard, I placed an opened blank journal in a central location with colored pens nearby.  It rests in a place I pass many time throughout the day when I’m home.  That open page calls to me much like a magnet, ready to accept my ideas.  As I’ve grown in the habit of jotting them down, I’ve discovered that writing down ideas begets even more ideas.

It’s easily portable so I can throw it in the car when I run errands.

A legal pad would work just as well.  So would a composition book.  I happen to like unlined pages. And colored pens.

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When the page is full, I tear it out and put it in a bin or file folder, and it’s there ready for harvesting, now or later.

“Accepting Writing Ideas” was a guest blog post for southernwritersmagazine.com.  The Georgia Writer’s Association also ran it in a newsletter. 

Why do guest blog posts?  It provides credits for your portfolio and writing communities are great places to find support for your work. It’s also a nice way of giving back. Good karma.

Embrace Platform Building by Changing Your Thinking

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. Albert Einstein

Most writers I know detest platform building. We’d rather be writing, after all. And many of us are introverts who cringe at the idea of self-promotion.

Hell is self-promotion,” declares Seth Beaudoin. “As an author, marketing myself is a crucial part of the business — but that doesn’t mean I hate doing it any less.”

I used to be in Seth’s camp. But I had a transformation last week after a conversation about the tendency in America to prolong the life of our elderly rather than let them die with dignity. I learned that some hospitals are changing DNR (do not resuscitate) to AND (allow natural death). What a difference the simple change makes! Allow natural death sounds like the right thing to do while we might question the do not resuscitate decision.

This got me thinking about the marketing dilemma writers face. What if we changed our thinking as Einstein suggests above? What if, instead of self-marketing, we thought of social networking as interacting with our audience? Just that small tweak earns the idea a smiley face. What if we thought of social networking as an opportunity to encourage? To support and validate other writers? To share resources? Now marketing sounds like heaven rather than hell. By changing the terms, we change our thinking. We go from feeling like scum for self-promoting to feeling like a queen for doing good.

We still share our work of course, but it’s not our main focus. Social media expert Edie Melson recommends a 5:1 ratio, or one tweet or post about our own work to five on other topics, while productivity guru  Michael Hyatt recommends the 20-to-1 rule. I think the ratio chosen should be determined by where we’re at on our individual journeys. We each need to find our comfort zone.

What about you? Do you embrace platform building or do you detest it as many writers do?