Things I Wish I’d Known: Writing is Not As Sedentary An Activity As You Might Think
With Mark Meier’s indulgence and support, I’m writing a blog post series called “Things I Wish I’d Known.” This is the fourth post in the series and I recognise I may need to provide some background and explanation to this post’s rather lengthy title.
I acknowledge that writing can be unhealthily sedentary: I have stiffness across my shoulders as I am typing this. Sure, I occasionally stride across the back fields composing lines or plot developments in my head, but mostly I sit hunched at my desk, or slouched on my settee, over a keyboard or sheet of paper, pulling words out of my head and onto the page. As a result I get a stiff neck, a pain across my shoulders, back ache or, more healthily, an uncontrollable urge to go for a long walk somewhere - anywhere. If I ignore the latter urge, you can guarantee I’m going to experience the former, big time. And yet...
The other week I managed to damage the ball of my right foot (don’t ask, but it involved bare feet and a twisted metal and bristle doormat). For days my foot was swollen and colourfully decorated in shades of purple, blue and red (and then, increasingly, a less than fetching shade of yellow). It felt as if I was constantly walking on a golf ball. I decided to put my injury to good use, remain seated and focus on my writing.
At first things worked out fine. I sat sensibly at my desk with my foot elevated and engulfed in ice packs. In that position I could type, write and think. Then I needed to get up in order to retrieve my printing from the printer. Ouch!
Job stoically done, I sat down again, raised my sore right foot, replaced the current ice pack and carried on writing. It was then I found I had to get up to let the cat out (and yes, he has a cat flap, but he’s a cat), make a cup of coffee, put some more paper in the printer, go to the loo to undrink the coffee I had just drunk, let the cat back in, resolve the paper jam in the printer, let the cat out again, make another much needed cup of coffee, go to the loo again, go downstairs to collect my post, change my warmed ice pack for a cold one, let the cat in, retrieve the next load of printing from the printer, get myself some lunch, let the cat out, go in search of more printer paper, pick up the pen that had fallen from my desk and rolled all the way across the study floor to the other side, go to the loo, change my ice pack, let the cat in and so on...
My foot was still hurting. The bruises were, if anything, brighter and more colourful than ever. If I’d realised just how unsedentary writing can be, maybe I’d have decided to read instead, or nap or simply do something less energetic.
Next month: Christmas is coming...