I used to think of ‘writing at a standing desk’ as an oxymoron–can’t be done. And didn’t article after article talk about how despite how good for you standing desks are, writing is best done sitting down? Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong. I have gone from raising a skeptical eyebrow at the ‘standing desk craze’ to full-on convert.
Why do I LOVE writing at my standing desk?
- It’s energized my writing routine. I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally vibrant as I stand at my desk and write.
- I’ve always thought of writing fiction as something akin to acting, and somehow standing enables me to connect on a more physical level with what the characters are feeling and doing than when I’m sitting slumped in my chair. Yeah, I tend to slump when sitting. Which leads me to the next point.
- My posture is better when I’m standing and writing than when I’m sitting and writing.
- I am more focused when standing than I am when sitting.
- I have more clarity about both big picture and details when I’m standing than when I’m sitting.
- Standing helps me remember to do the ‘power pose’ from that famous TED talk by Amy Cuddy. And that’s always great for my writing.
This is my ReadyDesk standing desk converter, which sits on top of my regular desk. It comes with two shelves that you can move around till you find the perfect height. I also bought an extra shelf:
In addition to the benefits to my writing, there are a host of advantages for any activity I do while standing at my desk:
- I’m burning calories.
- I’m supercharging my metabolism.
- I’m snacking less. (Sitting down to write tends to trigger my desire for a snack. Standing doesn’t.) Maybe because most of us don’t eat while standing up.
- I’m sleeping better.
- I have more energy, strength, and endurance for yoga, the stationery bike, and other exercise.
- Bonus: I’m enjoying non-writing tasks more at my standing desk than when I was sitting. For example, paying the bills and filing (the latter of which is something I particularly used to dread) have become far more pleasant when I do them standing at my desk. (I also listen to audiobooks while filing, and that really helps.)
Tips to make a standing desk work for you:
- Try it out before you invest in a new desk or in a standing desk converter for your existing desk. Before I bought my fabulous ReadyDesk, I stacked two monitor stands for my iMac, two clear plastic shoe boxes from Container Store for my keyboard, and the boxes from my headphones and my external drive for my mouse.
- Don’t feel bad if you get tired after 20 minutes or so.
- Sit for awhile, then stand for awhile till you build stamina.
- Make sure you move around a bit, especially your feet. Walk in place. Stand on your toes. stand flat on the ground and lift your toes. Dance around while you’re welcoming inspiration, picturing the scene, or mulling over how to word the next phrase.
- Bend your knees and move up and down periodically.
- Do strength-building exercises for your quads and calves in your off time to protect your knees.
- Work barefoot on a soft surface, or if you must wear shoes, wear comfortable shoes with excellent arch support.
- Anti-fatigue mats are also supposed to be fantastic for standing desks, though I haven’t tried any yet.
- Sit when you need to. It’s great if your standing desk has a chair high enough to allow you to sit as needed. Or, if you’re like me and too attached to the chair you already have, put a high cushion on the seat of your chair. Also: if you have a standing desk converter that doesn’t lower and rise with controls or a lever (like my ReadyDesk), see if you can tilt down your monitor from its fixed or semi-fixed perch (I do this with my iMac screen), and put the monitor and mouse on the regular desk surface while you take some sitting time.
Have you ever tried a standing desk? Or are you thinking about trying one? Do tell!