How I write 1: The physics of it.


I am, sadly, not in the first flush of youth. The body begins to complain with aches and pains here and there if it’s not treated with the respect its increasing number of years demands. Long ago, in my youthful office bound first career, spending the whole day sat at a desk was not a problem.


Now sitting all day has consequences, which I’m sure many other writers are familiar with. I’ve tried being disciplined and getting up for a walk and stretch every twenty minutes or so, but that alarm I set to remind me to leave my desk, it always goes off at the wrong moment, mid flow in a sticky scene, or in just as the agonists meet for the first time.

It’s not the sitting that’s harmful, but the lack of movement. That’s why chairs swivel and recline. But when the muse strikes and fingers are the only part of your body exercising is when the dreaded stiffness starts to set in.

I used to have a set up where I propped an old laptop on a box on an old workbench and could use it standing up. I quite liked working standing, but I had to send files back and forth, and the old machine was nearing the end of its life.


I hankered after a sit/stand desk. Electrically operated the whole desk moves up and down at the press of a switch. But these are expensive, and I have another constraint. The room I write in, where I can close the door and be undisturbed, doubles as the guest room. Which means when we have a visitor, usually adult children, I must be able to remove myself and set up temporarily elsewhere.

So here is my compromise. The ‘desk’ itself is a folding table. It’s utilitarian, but sturdy and strong when erected and when folded is just 8cms deep. I’ve had this for about a year or so and it cost about £40.


Sitting position, with home made foot rest!



I’ve worked with two screens for some time. It saves a huge amount of time if you need to review a piece in the light of feedback, or want to check some research while in the depths of a scene. The stand I’ve had only a couple of months. I love it. The gas sprung main stand converts from the sitting to the standing position at the pull of a lever.


In the sitting position I have the main screen almost face on, and low. The screen can be rotated through ninety degrees if I wished to use it in portrait orientation.



Standing position with tilted screen.

Writing standing up is a different experience. The monitor is supported on a fully flexible arm. You can see I have the monitor tilted away from me in the standing position. I don’t touch type and in this position I need little eye movement from keyboard to screen. I find I am more focused, less easily distracted and I naturally move about more, moving the wireless keyboard with me if necessary. I sometimes listen to piano solos or concertos when writing, especially if I’m standing. A concerto, about forty minutes, seems a good length for me to stay focused before I need caffeine.



And when one of my children delights me by visiting, it takes me ten minutes to dismantle and move the whole lot from one room to another.


Thanks for reading.

Rik.


Questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

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