Stand up for your writes!

By Vusi | 27 May 2015 Blog home

Just when you think you’ve identified an emerging trend to be all “thought leader-ish” about, you discover you haven’t. We googled: “write standing up”, and got 68 100 000 results in 0.36 seconds.

Sifting through the avalanche, we quickly discovered that:

  • Hbr.org published an article on “the benefits of standing” way back in 2010
  • There’s even a whole site called notsitting.com
  • Facebook’s own offices have over 250 standing desks, and counting.

Short of spending a week on thorough research, we opted for a superficial ice-skate across the topic (sitting down), instead.

Write Standing Up1

It’s an impressive clique, the writing-standing-uppers*:

(*Notably excluding Truman Capote, who claimed to be “a completely horizontal author”).

Winston Churchill? “Bolt upright”. Philip Roth? “Pacing – half a mile for every page”. Ernest Hemingway? “Typing on top of a chest-height, cluttered bookcase, in slippers, on the worn skin of a lesser kudu”. Benjamin Franklin? Leonardo Da Vinci? Virginia Woolf? Absolutely. Vladimir Nabokov? Lewis Carroll? Count them in. Otto von Bismarck? Thomas Jefferson? Charles Dickens? All on their feet. (Not to mention one American university swimming coach going by the name of Jake Shellenberger. Who knew?)

South Africa’s brilliant and prolific playwright Paul Slabolepszy is also a stander-upper. We love his work. It’s inspiring stuff. Here’s what he says:

Paul Slabolepszy

“It’s sad in a way that I only heard about this a couple of years ago. Main thing – you don’t have to buy a fancy, expensive desk. I built myself a rectangular pine box (sanded down and painted white) that I made to fit on top of my spare desk. Initially I thought I’d get tired standing up for long periods, or my legs would hurt, but I soon began to forget I was even on my feet.

“I’m definitely more energised, writing standing up. My mind seems to function a whole lot better and (weirdly) my concentration is a whole lot better”. 

“I’m definitely more energised, writing standing up. My mind seems to function a whole lot better and (weirdly) my concentration is a whole lot better; don’t ask me why. In the bad old days, I tended to ‘blob out’ quite often. Standing up, that ‘zombie-mode’ hardly ever comes into play. I find myself instead walking around briefly and then returning to my standing up desk. Also, writing standing up does not mean one cannot sit down with a cup of tea or whatever or go through emails or tap away at mundane keyboard stuff.

 “I would recommend it to all full-time writers. The most liberating thing about it is that I can literally spin away from my tall desk to ponder something, and/or sway from side-to-side when those writers-block moments bring my creativity to a grinding halt.”

Do you know creatives who prefer to stand? Why don’t you give it a try and let us know if you feel more energised.