Sitting, Standing, Lying Down...How Do You Write? - Writer's Digest

Sitting, Standing, Lying Down...How Do You Write?

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I have a writing injury!

Can’t you tell I’m proud?

It’s true. I have a certifiable writing injury. I went to the podiatrist recently and he told me that the large bump on my ankle which I believed to be a tumor that I would immediately die from was actually just a writing lump. Okay, he didn’t call it a writing lump, but after examining me, x-raying me, and questioning me (Did I wear hard boots? No. Did I rub my ankle against something on a regular basis? Uh, not that I knew of. How was I sitting? Ah-ha!)he determined that the hard chair I sat cross-legged on for hours at a time was slowly destroying my leg. All the pressure and weight from my entire body was on my poor ankle. And there was the moving back and forth, the getting up and down…all that friction. And so my body created a barrier to protect my bone from the chair. It’s like a cushion, he said. Your body made an ankle pillow. Diagnosis complete!

My right ankle is pretty swollen. When I walk around, the lump rubs against my shoe. This has caused it to swell even more. And people are starting to notice. At the gym a few days ago, my friend pointed to my ankle and said: What is that?

Basically, I have to stop sitting cross-legged. But it’s so hard! It’s my position. I think best and I write best when I sit that way. When I told my doctor this, he prescribed a softer chair.

Anyway, when I revealed this on Twitter, a fellow writer tweepresponded that she has the same injury!

I couldn’t believe it. You would think a writing injury would revolve around a finger, but no: an ankle. There needs to be a name for this.

In honor of my injury I thought I’d post the writing positions that famous writers’ prefer/ preferred.(Most of these were collected from A Writer’s Book of Days, by Judy Reeves)

Here goes:

Mark Twain

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Lying Down

Mark Twain, Truman Capote, & Richard Powers (while lying in bed, Powers speaks into a lap top with voice recognition software)


Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, & Virginia Woolf

Bathtub Soakers

Benjamin Franklin, Diane Ackerman, & Junot Diaz (Diaz sits on the edge of his tub when he wants to shut out the world)

Writers in the Nude

D.H Lawrence

After Long Walkers

Brenda Ueland, Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth

If you follow me on Twitter you'll learn more weird things about my writing life: @MFAConfidential

Also, check out this awesome article called How to Write a Great Novel. The Richard Powers and Junot Diaz references were taken from there.

And tell me, what position do you write in?

"It drove my ex crazy. She would always know I was going to write because I would grab a notebook and run into the bathroom."

-Junot Diaz


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