Writing is Killing You

I work for a national health care company as a freelance instructional designer, and one of my department compatriots sent out a link to a fantastic infographic about the health risks of sitting all day. This, I’m sure, comes as no shock to any of my well educated readers, but apparently, sitting for more than nine hours a day will kill you.

So what does that mean for us writers? Especially the ones with day jobs. I easily sit for more than nine hours more often than not, and I only work part time. Does that mean I’m destined for an early grave? And if so, how do I limit the hours I spend in front of my computer when all I want to do in my free time is write?

Before getting to possible answers to this conundrum, have a look at the marvelous infographic that spurred this post. It really is a thought-provoker.

Sitting is Killing You

Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Compelling, no?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have at least 60,000 more words to go before my novel is done, and I’d like to finish it before the next century rolls around. So here’s the multibillion-dollar question: how do I write and move around at the same time?

I’m leaving this post open-ended for you all to leave your thoughts and ideas, but I have an idea or two of my own that might be worth an experiment.

Pump Up the Volume: I’ve recently downloaded an app to my iPhone that lets me use my hands-free device to record audio. I’ve used it a few times while on long walks with my dog and baby daughter to record myself composing my novel. It’s not pretty, and the road noise can be prohibitive, but it works. I haven’t lost anything so far. And yes, I do have to transcribe when I sit back down at my computer. But transcribing is much faster for me than composing, and I can edit as I go.

Treading Writing: If you have a couple grand lying around, which I know isn’t likely for us writers and certainly isn’t likely in my near future, you can purchase this handy (footy?) solution.

Treadmill Workstation

Of course, if you already have a treadmill gathering dust in your garage, you can haul it out and create your own version of this beauty using a shelf, a modified desk, or other surface to secure your computer to.

So what are your ideas? I’d love to hear them. My metabolism isn’t getting any younger, people!

Here are a few more terrific blog posts to get your heart pumping:
How to Lift Your Writing to New Heights in Just Ten Minutes
5 Desk Exercises for Your Busy Office Life
Protect Yourself from Writing’s Physical Hazards

About Mary Elizabeth Summer

Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor--er, cat. TRUST ME, I'M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.
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11 Responses to Writing is Killing You

  1. Meaghan says:

    I have read things like this before and it is really scary. I work at a desk job 8hrs per day and then when I go home I start writing or reading virtually the moment my daughter goes to sleep and I am usually on the couch or in bed writing until I go to sleep, so yeah, I spend at least a good 12-15 hours a day sitting, and no, I definitely don’t have the money for one of those super treadmills (or the room in my tiny house). I wish I had a solution, but I don’t. I just try to get up and move around as much as I can and hope I don’t drop dead any time soon – like before I get my book published!

    • mesummer says:

      Yikes, I hear ya. My office is pretty good about ergonomics, at least, but really it’s down to us to get up and stretch every half-hour or so. I never do, but I know I should. Maybe setting up a computer pop-up reminder to get up and move for a few minutes is a good tactic. *SIGH* If you find a solution, let me know!!!

  2. Bluestocking says:

    There was a NYTimes article on this last week or so and I found the numbers really scary. I love writing and I’ve sacrificed a lot to be able to do it on a regular basis. But so much of the work force in white collar jobs sit all day – not just writers – and the data on its effects is really sobering. I hope we see more efforts beyond infographics to provide people with options that are both conducive to getting work done and don’t kill them over time.

    • mesummer says:

      Amen to everything you just said. I’d love it if my office incorporated the treadmill workstation option. Even just one or two that we could use on rotation. And on that note, I’m going to do some jumping jacks before my 3pm meeting. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Love the infographic, if not the message. When I worked outside the home, even though I sat a lot, I also got up a lot. Every time I went to the bathroom I walked to the far end of the building. It was a 1/3 mile round trip. On my lunch break I walked outside (or inside if the weather was really bad), and took walks to talk to people instead of call or email.

    It was all a deliberate ploy to get out of my seat and away from my desk. But I write at home, and I like my house. And it’s not 200,000 square feet, so taking the long way to the bathroom would mean going to the basement and back. 😉

    The only thing I’ve come up with is to occasionally work at the breakfast table in our eat-in kitchen. It’s bar height, so I can push the stool out of the way and stand.

    I keep telling myself I’ll get up every hour and stretch or practice Kung Fu or something, but then I get caught up in what I’m doing and forget or ignore the reminder.

    I have friends who have rigged up walking treadmills (there was a whole article in Romance Writers Report on it last month), but we already have a high quality cross-trainer and no room (or budget) for another piece of equipment.

    Maybe I should post that infographic at my desk. It definitely gets your attention!

    • mesummer says:

      Working at the breakfast table so you can stand sometimes sounds like a great compromise, actually. I sometimes haul my laptop to the kitchen island for the same reason, but I never stay there long. Alas.

      I do have a rather insistent furry reminder, so I get out for a good walk at least once a day. But it would be nice to be moving more consistently throughout the day. Thanks for the comment! I always love reading your feedback. :-)

      • So I was inspired to find a solution for my need to use my extra monitor for things like revisions and creating class lessons. I found a nearly perfect height box to set my laptop on, and now I can stand at my desk and still use my second monitor! Thanks for the little kick in the pants! =)

        • mesummer says:

          Awesome! Now you being inspired is inspiring me. Time to put on my walking shoes. And when I get back, I’ll try to tweak my writing space as well. :-)

  4. I actually think that I might have this one covered! A typical writing day for me starts with a morning workout 30-50 minutes, household stuff & errands. Then sitting down to write — getting up for coffee. Writing. Getting up for coffee…maybe an enormous glass of cucumber water. Writing. Up to the bathroom because of multiple drinks…and on it goes. I have always been a very “up and down” writer, which might not be so great for the process of getting the words down, but it sure keeps the circulation in motion :-)

    • mesummer says:

      That sounds like a great system! I’m intrigued by your reference to cucumber water. I remember now that I had that once at a fancy restaurant and unexpectedly loved it. I didn’t think about trying to re-create the experience at come. Hmmm… Also, yes and yes about the coffee. Thanks as always for the comment! :-)

  5. Pingback: Stand up gal « The Edited Life

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