Today the pain of writing really set it. Doing line editing on two chapter drafts left me contorted, with a literal pain in the neck. My writing pain usually strikes at this one point in neck--it's a dull pull, where my neck meets my right shoulder. This pain presents in every chair (dining, home office, work office) and every table I regularly use for writing. And while the following is probably not true, I must say that I think this pain happens *only* when I'm "really" writing, as in, writing my diss or other critical endeavor. Never do I think I feel it as I pound out tons of emails or otherwise spend an afternoon hunched at my computer.
We know sitting is bad for our health. Sitting really kills us, they say. So workplaces have been pushing the standing desk. On the Today show and NPR were stories about the standing desk with the treadmill attachment--your computer and desk surrounds you as you keep a slow walking pace. In another study, reported here, participants tried out a stand-up desk configuration that allowed them to raise their workstation and lower it easily by hand. The study found massively positive results, like unbelievable ones: "The workers who used the devices were lavish in their praise – 87 percent felt more comfortable, 87 percent felt energized, 75 percent felt healthier, 71 percent felt more focused, 66 percent felt more productive, 62 percent felt happier, and 33 percent felt less stressed."
Whoa. Those are good results. Surely easing a little nagging neck pain is also possible.
American Writers at Home (J.D. McClatchy), a beautiful coffee table book with photos and descriptions of the writing spaces of many of our most iconic American authors, features Longfellow's standing desk (pictured, left). He positioned a wooden lectern on a large circular table in the center of the room. Here he apparently stood to write long-hand, using the standing desk primarily to take advantage of the light from two big windows.
Longfellow's is my first inspiration for my OWN standing desk. I have decided it's an important experiment for me to try this out. Not only, it seems, will a standing desk ease pain, but it *may* make me happier, less anxious, more creative and healthier. It may just change writing. What kinds of designs are out there for a standing desk? How will this change my practice? Will I like to stand as all these studies claim? Will I be a less stressed and pressed writer? More to come on these questions.
Dr. Hannah J. Rule