Jeremy P. Bushnell is the debut author of The Weirdness, a rollicking account of what happens when the Devil makes a young Brooklynite and wannabe writer an offer he can’t refuse: to retrieve a lost artifact from a local warlock in exchange for a flourishing literary career. Expect demon wolves, PowerPoint presentations, and bad book events in this funny, wonderfully weird supernatural mashup. Here’s Bushnell on where he writes:
I basically write in a closet.
Before you start envisioning Harry Potter jammed in under the stairs, or some piteous Dickensian waif, though, let me just say that as closets go, this one is pretty finely stocked. Take a look at that photo up there and you’ll see that I’ve got a nice big external monitor to run my laptop into, and some excellent speakers, and even a couple of rubber kaiju to keep me company. And although you can’t see it in this picture, this closet is in a room that’s full of bookshelves and good light, making it, in actuality, a very pleasant place to work.
Those of you who are good at spatial perception may have already figured this out, but this is a standing desk configuration. The closet is actually a huge improvement over my old standing desk configuration, which—no lie—was achieved by literally stacking milk crates on top of boxes. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that in my late thirties I still hadn’t quite gotten past my place looking like a slovenly dorm room, but in my defense, I wasn’t entirely sure that the whole “standing desk” thing was going to work out for me. I’d seen the possibly questionable infographics touting the benefits of working while standing, and had decided to give it a try, but I wasn’t about to drop $599 on a Rebel Desk only to figure out that it wasn’t for me. Not when I could try it out by just piling up a heap of cost-effective cardboard and plastic!
(One final note on cost-effectiveness: the only thing I ended up buying to make the switch from the pile of boxes and crates to the closet was a SUMMERA keyboard pull-out shelf from IKEA. $9.99! Win!)
I’m not sure whether switching to a standing desk did anything meaningful for my health, but I will say that it helped me to write. The thing that separates successful writers from unsuccessful ones, more than any other thing, is persistence. And the question of persistence is really this question: what do you do when you get stuck? Before the standing desk, I’d get stuck, and because I was sitting there at the computer I’d do some other sitting-there-at-the-computer-type activity: I’d look in on Twitter (I’m @jbushnell there) or I’d check my email. This may not come as a surprise to you, but I feel it must be said again: these are exactly the wrong things to do if you want to get unstuck in your writing. They don’t help at all. The path they take you down is away from the writing; the next thing you know you’re watching Vines of people falling off of ladders or something.
With my standing desk, I still find myself stuck in the writing just as often, but I’m not also stuck in a chair. So instead of defaulting back to doing something else on the computer, I would just walk away. Just maybe walk once around the room. I think I already mentioned that there’s good light and bookshelves in there; the circuit puts me in mind of literary things. And something about perambulating around seems to help to jog the mind. Often I wouldn’t even get three steps away from the keyboard before the sentence I wanted to write next would pop into my mind. So if you really want to picture where I write, you can either picture me staring into the depths of a closet, or you can picture me strolling about, hand on chin, looking thoughtful and maybe a bit pretentious. Your choice! Either way, I’m happy.