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Stand Up To Write

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Last week I hurt my back so badly I couldn’t move for several hours. A ton of Motrin and an ice pack did nothing, so I finally swallowed a Vicodin I had left over from my wrist surgery three years ago. When I went to see the doctor, he prescribed me more Vicodin and told me to avoid sitting as much as possible. I’d injured my back two weeks prior and had been told to stop doing dishes and stop lifting the kids (haha), but this injury was slightly different. So, when resting, I had to lie down instead of sit. And when working, I had to stand. I set my laptop on top of my dresser and worked like that for two days, and my back held up pretty well. I looked into buying a stand-up desk for my office in the city, and this is what I found.

According to Stand Up For Learning, a company that makes stand-up desks for children, a stand-up desk “offers improved body ergonomics, expends excess energy, allows for better oxygen flow to the brain, improves handwriting, and is being studied for increase in caloric expenditure which could help fight rising childhood obesity statistics.” Putting stand-up desks in classrooms is a new trend, but adults—especially writers—aren’t new to standing up to work. At the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, I’m one of four writers who have stand-up work stations. The options range from a $30 kitchen wall table to stand-up workstations that range from $80 to several hundreds.

According to an article about the benefits of standing up to work, it’s especially good for people with repetitive stress injuries, or people trying to avoid them: “Standing doesn’t allow the leaning and slouching that is possible in a seated position, your back and neck remain straighter, and a properly positioned monitor allows users to look straight ahead, minimizing neck movement and strain.” In addition, standing up makes you feel more engaged with your work and more energized, so when you start feeling tired (particularly in the afternoon when Europe is taking a siesta and we are expected to power through on caffeine), standing up can really help. Some people stand up only in the afternoon and sit down to work in the morning.

If you’re unsure whether you need a stand-up work station, try it out for a day and see how you like it. Test it in a place where you already have a piece of furniture at working height. You want your upper arms parallel to your body, and your forearms parallel to the floor when you work, so find a height that works for you. Then, if you like it, you can look into investing in a stand-up workstation. Aside from the Ikea shelf I mentioned above, there are many other options. Just Google standup workstations or standup desks, and you’ll find everything you need. Just make sure that you get one that is either a) the right height for you or b) adjustable. You could get a stool, too, if you want to stand up most of the time but have the option to sit now and then.

Here’s a metal mobile workstation for $199.

This one’s inexpensive but fixed height.

Here’s one that’s just $80.

Another fixed-height station for $250.

What about you? Have you ever tried standing up to work? How did you like it? Do you know people who use standup workstations?

6 comments to Stand Up To Write

  • I would consider it, and I know Scott Westerfeld just switched to stand-up writing. I've only actually tried it once, at like 2 am in my kitchen, because Kiersten White says that's how/where she writes and I was feeling desperate and dreadful that night. Let's just say it wasn't so great, but that had more to do with 2 am than standing up. (Or maybe it was standing up at 2 am that was so bad… but still, not standing up's fault!)

  • I can definitely see how that would keep your energy up.

  • I prefer sitting while I write. I hadn't even considered standing while doing it.

  • Stina – the thought of standing up to write is not all that alluring, but it does something to you that's worth trying out. Or just wait until you're old and have back pain like me, and then you won't have any choice 🙂

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