The IFW Editors
Want to eavesdrop on our Inspiration for Writers’ editors? We asked our editors to tell us how they sneak in exercise during their work day. To protect the innocent—or the guilty, as the case may be—we’ve hidden the contributors’ names. Here’s what happened:
Intern J: Remember when we talked about exercises you can do at your desk (in addition to other healthy writing habits)? Can you guys respond to this email with your desk exercise suggestions? Thanks!
Editor R: I don't believe I ever consciously think of exercising when I'm writing. I tend to have many interruptions, anyway (kiddo, cats, husband—Can you come hold the ladder for me? Where did you put my whatever?—telephone, dryer buzzer, doorbell), so I'm up and down fairly often, anyway. And then there's refilling my coffee cup, which is a frequent demand. When I'm writing my own stories, however, I intentionally get up and walk away after every scene. Whether it's a page, a chapter, or whatever, I walk away for a moment. I think about the scene, make sure it's what I want it to be, and then I think about the next scene—envision the setting, listen to the sounds there, consider the character's voice and how the tone should sound different than it did in the last scene. This may take five minutes or a couple of hours—which is likely why it takes me so long to write! I suppose I'm just too hyperactive to stay seated for very long, but at-the-desk exercise has never been an issue with me.
Editor S1: I sometimes use an exercise ball for a chair at my desk. If I swap it out for my chair even for an hour or two, I find I’m not only more comfortable, but I get more accomplished in that time. Active sitting is so much better for my lower back and hips.
Editor S2: I also sit on an exercise ball at work. And do forearm stretches to stretch those carpels by pushing one of my hands up or down with the other hand.
Editor D: Just last year, I started running around my building once an hour, and it has made a difference—and I might add it’s helpful to have a dog that could benefit from this type of exercise too.
Editor X: I do what I call “60-second exercises.” Every time I get up—which I try to do at least once an hour—I set the timer for one minute and do some kind of exercise for that one minute. It might be jumping jacks, toe touches, lunges, whatever, but those 60-seconds add up over a day’s time.
Editor D: Get those shoulders loosened up by reaching for the sky and performing a satisfying stretch. Lock your fingers together while you're up there and try to bring your arms behind your head as far as possible. I have a big thick rubber band (my massage therapist gives them out, about an inch wide and a foot in circumference) that I use to aid in this endeavor if I'm not too tired/lazy to reach for the rubber band. One simply hooks a finger into each side of the rubber band and does the same stretch only with the rubber band.
Editor X: I do a similar stretch. With my arms over my head, I bend from the waist to the left, to the right, forward and backward. And then do it again. And again. And again.
Editor D: One thing to perhaps add is the importance of stretching any which way you can—not only back and shoulders, but legs and arms. It can be hard to type while in a fancy yoga position, but sometimes I read while doing a simple one. One more thing I love to do: if one gets/has a big, thick rubber band, one can use it to aid in arm stretches and even muscle building while one sits (pulling the rubber band apart at chest level and also with arms straight up, or even trying to go back over your head). Also, I think people overlook the simple stretch of turning your head slowly to the side, as if you're trying to look over your shoulder, and holding that position for a few seconds (then, of course, do the other side).
Editor X: Oh, yeah. That turning of the head feels great! Thanks.
Editor C: I have a parrot in my care who keeps trying to go for the cat, who is an ace bird catcher, so that keeps me leaping up to stop the parrot from testing the cat. Therefore, I recommend a ball chair, one parrot, one cat, daily exercise, children under the age of ten who constantly need attention, and a beagle who steals food off a kitchen counter—those few additional practices should keep muscles going.
Editor D: Editor C, except for the parrot, I'm right there with you. Oh, and instead of a sweet little beagle, imagine a Jack Russell-mix who eats everything from earplugs to bandaids—unless she’s burying them in the potted plants.
Editor C: Our beagle also steals cell phones and any other electrical appliance he can get his teeth on—oh and he loves unwrapping toilet rolls and dragging the whole unraveled roll around the house. He tears up used tissues—gross, and underwear from the laundry bin are his favorite—barf!
Intern J: Exercises, guys! Exercises! C’mon. Focus!
Editor D: Sometimes my exercise routine at the end of the day consists of twisting bathtub knobs and squeezing a bottle of Sage/Lavender/Take Your Pick Calm and Relax bubble bath.
Editor C: Okay, here is my exercise after a long day of editing or writing. I get up off my ergonomically designed PC chair and walk to a cabinet. I uncork a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, pick up a glass with my left hand, pour a Jack with my right, then down said Jack. If the day was filled with really bad/difficult writing, I down a second Jack—or more—gotta keep exercising those arms. Then I'll pour a third Jack, meander to the refrigerator, pop in some ice, wander back to my ergonomically designed chair, put up my feet and review the edit with new, somewhat tipsy eyes and finally get to have a good laugh, cry or laugh until I cry, depending on how many Jacks I’ve actually had. So I exercise my tear ducts as well—needed to do that all day.
Editor R: We have a similar exercise regimen, Editor C. Except my personal trainer is Jack's Latino cousin, José.
Intern J: Okay, you people are funny, and I hate to be a stick-in-the-mud, but does anyone have any other real desk exercises or stretches they do? We have a blog to get out.
Editor G: This may be a generational thing, Intern J. I think some of us “oldies” started this work before anyone decided we needed desk exercises. Whoever heard of such a thing? Now we’re the victims of old bad habits and don't even know any desk exercises. Except that elbow-bending one Editor C mentioned.
Editor R: I'm with Editor G. The only desk exercise I do is getting up when the dryer buzzer goes off, or to refill my coffee mug, or to let the cats in—and out—and in—and out—and . . . you get it.
Editor C: I’m with both of you. In the naughty corner.
Intern J: *sigh*