Writing Hurts


1 November 2009

We all know writing is hard.  Lately it’s gotten harder.

I’ve read about writers sinking into writing “furies,” where they work so hard it begins to ravage their health.  I always thought of this as primarily psychological-emotional.  Maybe even psychosomatic. Think Noah Taylor/Geoffrey Rush playing Rachmaninoff in SHINE.

But over the last few months, the back and wrist pain have begun to ossify in a way that is becoming challenging.  Daily-pain challenging.  Today is Day 2 sitting on an exer-ball instead of a chair.   I wonder if there is such thing as a standing desk, which might be even better for the long-term.  Your thoughts/suggestions welcome.

How bizarre.  Most people need to be able to walk, move, climb, lift, swing, throw, push to be able to do their work.  Writers need to be able to sit.   I won’t be using the word “just” in front of the word “sit” (as in, “just sitting around”) ever again.


5 Responses to “Writing Hurts”

  1. Eric Says:

    I wrote half of my second book standing at a high table in a coffee shop. It’s great for bouts of restlessness and obviously better on your back. I think I heard one of the greats wrote standing, had either a desk with two levels or an adjustable table, something like that.

  2. Danny Says:

    I have a book called “The Writer’s Desk” by Jill Kremnitz. There’s a picture of Rita Dove writing at a lecturn of sorts. And there’s one of Saul Bellow writing at an adjustable table. He has a chair behind him, so it looks like he alternated sitting and standing, raising and lowering the table as necessary. Something I learned from my physical therapist: when standing up, having one foot raised a few inches–on your copy of 2666, perhaps–will keep your posture straight, since it’s impossible to slouch in such a position. Or something like that.

  3. Sean Gaffney Says:

    John Medina (Brain Rules) suggests a treadmill work station — walking while working. Haven’t tried it myself (they sell them for around five grand — I won’t be trying one soon).

  4. mindy Says:

    Sympathies on the back and wrist pain.

    Apparently Jonathan Lethem types while walking on a treadmill:

    Where I Work: Jonathan Lethem

  5. sonyachung Says:

    Standing and walking, both great ideas. So much good stuff happens when I walk, I notice. Jonathan Lethem’s jury-rigged system verrrry interesting… Someone advised me to always be standing when you’re talking on the phone if you are trying to make an impression (an interview, for example).

    Day 5 on the exer-ball. Not sure how/if it’s working.

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