Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Standing Up to Write

When I visited the house of German writer and artist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (the oft-called 'last universal genius') in Weimar many years ago, I was taken by his original writing desk. To stand before the great writer's creative space thrilled me. I was quite literally standing in the spot he wrote his great works; you see, he wrote while standing up. His desk was tall, five feet high and on a slant like a podium.

Goethe's writing desk in his garden house

Since then I've discovered other genii who also wrote whilst on their feet. Sir Isaac Newton wrote his entire 'Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy' standing up. Ernest Hemingway also wrote standing at a chest height desk on which he'd placed his typewriter. He once said, 

"Writing and travel broaden your ass, if not your mind,
 and I like to write standing up."

German philospher Friedrich Nietsche, and American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims also wrote standing up.

Even Aristotle is credited with walking about while talking and thinking.

So, with so many great thinkers to vouch for the benefits of standing up to write, a while ago I purchased a standing desk for myself. (You can see in the photo I'm writing at it now.)

My standing desk
It's actually a 'bar' table that I found in an ordinary furniture shop and was designed for dining at with 'bar' stools. Luckily for me this was the trend at the time. The shop assistant couldn't fathom why I didn't want any stools as well.

I also have a wooden wedge I place at my feet and stand on to stretch my calf muscles while I work. It's on a 45 degree angle as recommended by my physiotherapist. He also recommends standing on one foot and on tip toes for short periods of time to improve balance and strength. I can do all that at my standing desk. 

A friend of mine recently bought a Varidesk which can be raised to varying standing heights and just sits atop your ordinary desk. This is a great space saver and worth checking out.

Of course, I do still write at my sit-down desk, which is a slanted art desk, and also in my favourite reading chair, mixing it up and changing rooms according to the time of day, weather and my mood.

Where's your favourite place to write?