The Love-Hate Relationship Between Me and My Chair

It seems I’m always trying to either keep myself in my chair or get myself out of my chair.

When it’s time to put words to paper, and the words don’t come easily, I can suddenly think of a million things I need to do. Things that require me to get up out of my chair, walk away from my desk, and abandon my computer. Very important things, like taking out the trash or walking down the street to the post office or paying a visit to the laundry room.

On the other hand, when it all comes together and the words and ideas are flowing, I could easily stay in my chair (and have) for days at a time. During those periods, I have to force myself to get up and out of my chair, to stretch and to get moving.

Some time ago, in the midst of one of those particularly productive stretches, I realized I had hardly moved from my chair in five days, other than to sleep, shower, or grab something from the fridge. Even then, I did so grudgingly. I’d go to bed looking at the clock, damning the human need for sleep, and thinking to myself, “Okay, in about six hours, I can wake up and start writing again.”

I had the realization that I had barely moved from my chair in five days only because my legs started aching from being in a cramped position for nearly a week. Even then, I powered on through the pain, trying to finish “just one more paragraph.” Only the fear that I would develop deep vein thrombosis finally got me up and moving. Fear, as we all know, is a powerful motivator.

I don’t allow myself to do that anymore. Not to that degree. I’ve changed the structure of my days so that sleep, movement, and nutrition provide the framework. On a normal day, I take breaks from writing to take walks and run errands and do household chores. For writers, I think it is important to create daily blocks of time away from our desks. Writing is not only a solitary life, it is a largely sedentary one.

Over the years, I have found that, sometimes, when you most want to be in your chair, that is when you most need to be out of it.  And nearly always, when you most want to be out of your chair, that is when you most need to be in it.