So, I first heard about standing up whilst writing from the great Hemingway (not literally). Apparently, he had quite the setup; standing in a pair of his oversized shoes with the desk and typewriter at chest height. Seemingly, there are other famous authors who had similar styles; Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Virginia Woolf to name a few.
Why mention this?
Well, I read a post today from Stanford University (written 24th April) that suggests walking improves your creativity by as much as 60%. As someone who often has ‘wow’ moments when I’m out walking the dog, or out on a run, I can believe this – talk to enough writers and you’ll see a common theme of carrying notebooks around for when the muse strikes (which I imagine is very rarely when we’re sat at our desks). If this is the case, then us writers knew about this long before Stanford researched it.
What I find more interesting in the study is that it just seems to be the process of walking / running rather than the environment that we are in. The example used is that of a person walking on a treadmill in a room facing a brick wall. In this case the test showed that there was still double the amount of creative responses for the treadmill walker when compared to the person sitting down. This suggests that we don’t need to be out in glorious sunshine in an idyllic setting (which I find really interesting as I generally sit facing a brick wall for upto 10 hours a day). Even pacing up and down in the same room has a similar effect!
Is that it?
No. What the research also uncovered is that the increase in creativity can continue for a short while even after we sit back down. Imagine that, not only does the walking help fire the flames of creativity, it also stokes the fire enough to keep it burning after we sit down.
More information on the research itself can be found here.
I think I’m going to make an active choice to move around more often – not just because of this research, but because my bodyshape is already beginning to change from all the sitting around. There are obvious health benefits to getting up and walking around every now and then – who knows, I may even get myself a standing desk!