April 21, 2011

Life lessons

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 1:04 pm
Tags: , ,

In my twenty-six years of life I’ve fluttered from job to job like a confused worker bee searching for the perfect flower. In the cold nights when I stand in a pile of unpaid bills, trying to ignore the unsettling number of zeros on my student loan payments, I tell myself that the myriad of work experiences have all taught me valuable lessons about living life. (It works about fifty percent of the time, the other times I drown out the noise with Uncle Whisky.) Now I’ll share one of those life lessons with you.

The year I managed a chiropractic clinic, I learned about the importance of good posture. I made a list of good advice I’d tell patients that came in complaining about backaches and neck troubles. Of course, I was running my ass off making sure the massage therapist and chiropractor were on time, the patients were happy, the filing was in order, the plants were watered and that I was properly caffeinated, so I didn’t need to test my theories. Now that I’m working full-time as a writer, however, I’ve gotten a chance to take my own advice.

The first thing is to start out in a good position.

It should look something like this:

(Image from

Looks easy, right? Well, it isn’t. I’ll sit down in the correct pose, but less than five minutes later, I’m sliding all over my chair. My legs are up on the desk, my hips pushed forward, my shoulders are raised and my neck sticks forward like a turtle. The way to avoid this is practice (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself) and changing your position. Every time you stand up to get a glass of water or go to the restroom, you have another shot at getting it right.

That’s why I told my patients to keep a stopwatch next to their work station. It sounded like a good idea. Just set the timer for forty minutes, get up and do some stretches. (Forty minutes in one position is the max amount of time you should spend by the way, taking a short break every twenty minutes is the goal.)

Now, here is where I went wrong. As a fiction writer, I need to keep my focus when I get it. Having a timer counting down next to me makes sure I’m never fully committed to creating. Not to mention how bad it is for your flow to have to take a break mid-sentence to do stretches. Trust me, not the best advice I’ve given.

Instead, think of it like this: The longer you stay seated in the same position, the stiffer you’ll get and the more likely it is that you’ll experience neck and/or back problems. And the longer you stay locked in one position, the more likely is it that your writing’s growing stale. When I’m stuck at a phrase or unsure of how to move a scene forward, I go take a look in my fridge. I get a fresh cup of coffee. I do ten push-ups. Anything to break the slump. And by doing that, I’m making sure my back and neck suffers as little as possible from my choice of career.

See? If I hadn’t worked at a chiropractic clinic, I wouldn’t know how to sit. And if I hadn’t worked as a writer, I wouldn’t know how to stay seated. You think I could pay my bills with life lessons?

*Image from



  1. I wouldn’t think about my posture at all except that my boss will come by and say, “How’s that slump working out for you?” (He’s not doing this to be snarky, by the way; he’s just trying to remind me that everything I do as a 32-year-old today will be felt less happily by my 62-year-old self!)

    I also wouldn’t have ever guessed I’d enjoy an entry about posture, but then I read this one. Thanks for the perspective, and for the smile. πŸ˜‰

    Comment by Deborah the Closet Monster — April 21, 2011 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

    • And he’d be right. I wish I had someone come by my desk to remind me of that!

      Glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚

      Comment by nascentnovelist — April 21, 2011 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  2. You know what’s funny? Your comment saying so reminded me to stop my slouching and sit in a way that wouldn’t make my boss glare at me. Thanks for that. πŸ˜€

    Comment by Deborah the Closet Monster — April 21, 2011 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  3. Or you could do what I do, skip the seated part altogether, and get a standing desk. It is sooooooooooooo good. πŸ™‚

    Comment by Mackenzie | Red Roan Chronicles — April 28, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  4. […] Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 1:07 pm So, you’re already past step one. You’ve hurt your back/neck from extended sitting, scribbling notes all night, forcing words […]

    Pingback by Good exercises for neck and back « nascentnovelist — May 13, 2011 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  5. […] preaching the merits of good posture. It’s just that my introduction to her was via her entry on maintaining good posture through long writing sessions. The contrast between that entry and the one recommended below kept me coming back for a kind of […]

    Pingback by FTIAT: Give it that extra push! « The Monster in Your Closet — February 3, 2012 @ 9:31 am | Reply

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