This post is late because I hate my desk.
Well, not really. It’s all my fault. I bought a new desk and chair at the beginning of the semester this last fall. With a day before classes, I assembled them (got them at Ikea, which I love. The First Reader hates going there, makes him feel like a rat in a maze) and then school, work, and life happened. Fast forward a few months.
When I’m writing full time, I will easily spend 8 hours a day at this desk. But even if you only spend a little time a day, getting one set up properly is worth the time and effort. I highly recommend taking that time – it took me several days of lost work before I realized what exactly was going on.
Assess your workspace. Is it cluttered and dirty? Take the time to clear up and clean up. This little step makes a big difference, and lets you start rearranging without knocking things over.
Sit down. Get comfortable. If you can, have your partner photograph you while you are working, as it will give you a way to see yourself, and all the unconcious bad habits you have fallen into. I have, for years, sat cross-legged (not quite lotus!) in my office chair. This isn’t good for my back, as it makes me lean forward rather than embracing the support of my office chair. I’m going to have to break that habit. Being a woman of petiteness, my feet don’t reach the ground, which might be part of the reason I started sitting that way. Also, my toes get cold near the ground at this time of year. So for me, a footstool, and possibly a space heater, will help.
Adjust your height. I have a chair that raises, lowers, has wheels, leans, and all that jazz. I finally got around to adjusting it today for the proper height, and I think I still need to work on that. But you should have your derriere all the way back in the seat, back supported by the chair, and now are your legs straight out in front of you like a child because your seat is too large for you? Mine are, quite, and a long-legged man (like my First Reader) will have other challenges.
Pay attention to your workspace. Is your monitor directly in front of you so you don’t have to crane your neck? I’m still working on this, as I have a 27″ on a shelf (which allows me to be looking up rather than down at the laptop keyboard all the time) and it’s not square to where I can sit most comfortably. My friend Amanda pointed out when I sent the working photo to her that I was using my laptop keyboard, flat, and that a slanted keyboard is much more comfortable. For now I’m using a USB keyboard, which is finger-happier, although that may also be the larger keys. I’ll pick up a cooling desk thingy for the laptop later.
Finally, spend some time testing it out. I’m writing this post, stopping, and fidgeting with things. Ideally when all the exterior annoyances fade away and the words on the screen are all that is left, I’ll know that I got it right. Sure, after I’ve written a few thousand words of fiction, I’ll be a bit sore in the hands, but that’s to be expected, and not having an aching back, hips, and knees will be a pleasure. I think I’m learning that I need a little footstool under my desk (curse my short legs and little T-Rex arms!) but maybe a padded one will help my feet stay warmer.
Sometimes, it matters how you write.