Does Your Chair Affect the Quality of Your Writing?
I’m always amused when I see a picture of a woman seated on a cushy sofa, legs crossed, computer on lap, happily tapping out a novel on the keyboard. It seems idyllic. It’s a good advertising photo to show how you can make money as a writer with effortless comfort.
But after an hour or two, I wonder how comfortable it would be? A cushy sofa and crossed legs sounds like a prescription for a sore back and neck.
We all want to be comfortable when we write, but comfort may differ for people. Most of us need a writing chair that offers good support and a desk or table at the correct height. This offers a wide comfort zone for most people, and it conforms to the findings of scientific ergonomic research.
There are other options. I once knew a pastor who found it more comfortable to stand as he researched and wrote his sermons. He built a counter-top about 3.5 foot tall and about 6 foot wide. His key study books were laid out in the sequence he liked, so he walked down the line consulting them and making notes. At the end of the counter he stood and typed his message. Yes, he had a stool there and sometimes sat on it, but most of the time he was on his feet.
You might think that writing while standing up is odd. It is, of course, but this pastor was not the first to do it. Standing desks were particularly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries but have been used by writers over the years. Benjamin Franklin, Lewis Carroll, Winston Churchill, Vladimir Nabokov, Ernest Hemingway, and Philip Roth all wrote standing up.
Hemingway worked in a separate building in the yard of his house in Key West, Florida. This picture shows him at work in his writing room there.
John Wesley wrote his journal, sermons and books on horseback as he traveled from place to place to preach. While at home, he used this unusual chair. George Williams, who took this picture in the house Wesley built in the 1760s on City Road in London, said he was unsure of its exact use. It is clear you could sit in it facing the front or back. Based on your orientation, you can use the chair to read, write or pray.
I like the Wesley chair. It might take time to get used to it, but it looks like it could be both utilitarian and comfortable.
Sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen is the most common way that people write today. It is important that your stance be organically correct to minimize stress on your body. However, there are many postures that may affect your creativity and writing output in a positive way. Take a chance and experiment to discover what works best for you.