Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Butt in Chair time: good for writing, not so good for butts!

Nearly everyone says the most important part of writing is Butt In Chair time. But how do you juggle Butt In Chair time with keeping your body healthy and fit? Ever since I went from teaching (large portions of every day spent on my feet) to office work, then full-time writing, I've been struggling with maintaining that balance.

Author Helene Boudreau uses a treadmill desk. Genius, right? Walking and writing at the same time. She's got a video, and more information about it, here.

I'm itching to try the same as soon as I live some place more permanent, where the time and money spent setting up a treadmill desk will be worth it. But what to do in the meantime?

I've tried a few different options.

For a few months I sat on an exercise ball instead of my regular chair. It was great for my calf muscles, but my body couldn't adjust to it, and it was hard not having support for my back.

I've also tried being more mobile. Not only do I treat myself with email and snack breaks (essential for good writing!), I have stretch breaks. And whenever I'm stuck, I try to get up, pace my living room, and stare out the window as I puzzle things out. That's helped.

Lately, I've been thinking about doing more audiobooks. I've chanced across a few free audiobook downloads recently (Kathryn Stockett's The Help and Holly Black's White Cat, both of which I loved!) and really enjoyed being able to walk and read.

I see Audible has a monthly or yearly fee where you can download a certain number of audiobooks each month. Has anyone else gone that route?

What do you do to get Butt in Chair time without the Butt in Chair bit?


  1. BIC (=Butt in Chair) is good for the mind and for our self-discipline, but is not a workout for the body.
    I never thought someone would try to work this out (intended...) - if you can write while treadmilling, you are a much more able writer, and more virtuous too. My sweatband’s off to you.

  2. I totally feel you on this one. I try to get up and take breaks when I'm at the day job, which is pretty sedentary.

    I love listening to audio books but I can't seem to find access to them as much (public library has a dismal selection).

    I would love to listen to them in my daily commute.

  3. I cleaned up and re-inflated a huge exercise ball that has been in the basement for a dozen years. It just fits under the wooden game table that I use the laptop on when I'm working downstairs. I'm surprised at how easy it is to sit on. However, breaks are still essential, as is real exercise, as in walking 2 or 3 miles. On a day like today (positively UK weather: rainy, windy, dark, grey) the only thing is an exercise video.

  4. PS: Love the new blog look!

  5. Mirka: Funny, my husband is quite dubious about me walking and writing at the same time, too! ;) And honestly, I AM one of the klutziest people I know. But I figure I can put the treadmill on a super low speed! I guess we'll have to see...

    Karen: Well, if I do go the Audible route, I'll let you know how it works out. My library has a pretty dismal selection, too. Thank goodness for these few freebies I've stumbled across!

    Anne: Ohh, I'm glad you've managed to make the exercise ball work for you! Hehehe. Not only is it rainy, windy and dark, it's GREY! ;) Aw, and thanks for blog compliments. It was LONG overdue!

  6. I'm so bad at taking breaks. Instead, I just stay curled up with my laptop for hours, which I'm sure isn't making my body all that happy. My husband puts alerts on his calendar at work that go off every hour or so, reminding him to get up and stretch. I'm starting to wonder if I should try it.

  7. Anna: I've thought about doing the stretch alerts, too, but of course I worry that I'll be in the middle of a genius thought and lose it! Perhaps I'm being a bit too precious about my routine, though! ;)

  8. Anne - catching this post late but wanted to add that my husband joined an audiobook program (long car rides/business books) and he liked it, but it can start to pile up like anything else. I'd recommend the lowest subscriber rental/download as possible since it can be a hassle otherwise.

  9. Bridgette: Thanks for taking the time to share your advice. So true, and definitely something I'll keep in mind (as I think about my own pile of magazines waiting to be read...).

  10. What about "exercise pedals"? (Google that phrase to see examples.) I've often thought that would be a good compromise between sitting still and dealing with a treadmill. They look relatively cheap too. Of course, I've never actually tried it out. :)

  11. Now if I could just hook the exercise pedals up to power my computer to give me incentive, we'd be in business! ;) No, seriously, that might be a good idea. I'll have to look into them. Thanks!


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