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Fitness for Writers (Does Not Include Running After Plot Bunnies)

I see the problem of fitness for writers being two-fold. Firstly, the fact that we’re sitting…

I see the problem of fitness for writers being two-fold. Firstly, the fact that we’re sitting at a desk all the time, which apparently is slowly killing us (along with diet coke and wifi, so I doubt I have long left). Second is the fact that our haunts of choice tend to be home, near the biscuit tin, or in a coffeeshop, near the giant sugar-laden coffees and cupcakes. And while we tend to do an enormous amount of mental gymnastics (this scene will work, this scene will work, this – what? Why are the characters doing this? What are they doing? Who let the plot bunnies in here? Stop! Come back here! I’m – oh, never mind. Pass the tea and biscuits), we often spend rather less time doing the sort of gymnastics that breaks a sweat (other than a nervous one).

Therefore, in order to try and lengthen the life span of the endangered author, allow me to introduce:

Fitness for writers.

Firstly, some options I’ve come across on the internet:

A standing desk:

This I quite like. Apparently you can buy actual stands that you can adjust to the correct height, but I have a mini ironing board from Ikea that I put on the kitchen island (also from Ikea. Can I get this post sponsored?), which works quite well. Unfortunately it means I don’t even need to get up to walk to the cookie jar, so I’m not sure it helps that much at all. I also find that if I’m writing for extended periods my posture gets really bad, and there are also times when I just need to burrow into cushions and feel safe in order to write. On the other hand, it does fix my sore back from sitting too long, so I probably spend about half my time standing.

A walking desk:

homemade standing desk set-up for writers fitness

The biscuit tin lives under that counter. I should move it. Should.

Okay, so I can’t walk and text, so I’m not at all sure I wouldn’t just fall off the end of the treadmill every five minutes when I forget to keep walking (I’ve done this in a gym before. Another reason I don’t like gyms). And I doubt my writing would make much sense, as texts I send when trying to write and walk are already fairly unintelligible. Plus, how do you drink your tea and walk at the same time? I have doubts.

A Swiss ball:

I have actually tried this out – the theory is that you have to engage your abs a lot more, and your body is constantly making small adjustments to keep you balanced. First problem – Layla is terrified of Swiss balls. She may actually have a ball phobia (Sfairesphobia?), as even the little twine one I bought her (in Australia, no less, and carted back) sends her bolting under the couch. Second problem – I can’t sit cross-legged on it, and siting with one foot up on the opposite knee puts you at a funny twisted angle, which is rubbish for your back. As I’m incapable of sitting like a normal human being, this is no good for me.


I’m sure there are more things you could do while writing – maybe a stationery bike with your laptop on the handlebars, or a stepper of some sort. I don’t know. It’s all very equipment-intensive, and I don’t even like using much equipment for working out. But that’s all personal preference. So what else can we do, that doesn’t involve falling off treadmills or terrifying the cat?

Take a break:

The internet is crawling with desk exercises you can do, so I won’t rehash them here. But you know the sort – do squats, or jumping jacks, or use your office chair to do ab exercises. And why not? A break is always good, and these are all easy exercises to get the blood flow going. But it’s also kind of boring, and you need to have the discipline to actually do the jumping jacks and not just go make a cuppa. Which means they’re out for me.

I like breaks.

And wouldn’t it be better if we could work out while writing, without needing any fancy equipment? I say yes!


Without further ado, allow me to present:

Alternative writing positions!

TM. Can’t be reproduced without permission, etc, etc, because these are groundbreaking. Obviously.

Writing the plank:

Okay, I actually can stay like this. For a bit.

Make sure your abs are tight with this one, and your back isn’t taking up the strain. Bonus points if you can convince the cat to sit on your back and add a little resistance.

Downward dabbling:

Straight legs, tight tummy, and try not to drip sweat on your laptop. Also a good way to dislodge the cat.

This is where a heavier laptop gets you extra points.

The invisible chair of creativity:

Keep your knees behind your toes, and advanced writers may want to rest their laptop on their knees. Maybe. If it’s a cheap laptop.

Character crunch:

Please don’t drop the laptop. Please don’t drop the laptop.

Tight tummy, straight back, and don’t let those legs droop – unless you were after a new laptop anyway.

So there we go – absolutely doable while writing, right? Right?

Ach, fine. They may not be entirely realistic. But it’s still more fun than a treadmill desk, in my mind. How about you? Any tips on fitness for writers? Let me know in the comments!

And meanwhile, here’s a video of a guy doing a workout with his cat, because Layla refused to cooperate. I should have expected that, and saved myself the scratches. She’s so unhelpful.

fitness, fitness for writers, just for fun, keeping fit, self care, silly stuff, staying healthy, writer's life

  1. Jon says:

    I’m not bendy enough for any of that. There is a steep hill twist the bus stop and my house. This suffices.

    1. Jon says:

      Twixt, dammit.

      1. kimwatt says:

        There you go again, using fancy language and confusing autocorrect. 😉 I’m not very bendy either. It’s a little disconcerting teaching yoga when your students are bendier than you.

  2. Thanks for the smiles. If I run in the morning before writing sometimes the words flow better.

    1. kimwatt says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! And working out in the morning is my go-to as well – it always leaves me feeling ready for the day.

  3. Shilpa Garg says:

    Hahaha! You are amazing, Kim. I wouldnt be able to manage even a single one from your moves!! 😀

    1. kimwatt says:

      It’s just practise – and getting the person taking the photo to take it really, really, quickly, like come on! Hurry up! 😀

  4. datmama4 says:

    Those are totally legit writing moves. I can see why you’re so productive!

    I love the videos that show people working out with their dogs, doing yoga poses and all that . . . and I wonder why it is that my cats think the appropriate exercise is flopping down right where I’m landing after a plank or something similar. Death By Plank is not how I want any of our cats to meet their end.

    1. kimwatt says:

      Ha, yes, Layla LOVES getting under my feet when I’m jumping around with weights, or being directly under my chest when I’m doing chaturanga in yoga. I like to think she’s helping with my form, but I fear she may actually just be entertaining herself using the time-honoured game of Messing With The Human.

Comment away! (Points awarded for comments involving cats, tea, or baked goods)

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