Writing Desk Essentials

I pride myself on being a pretty low maintenance, portable writer. After all, I specialized in moving around for three years with this writing life, and by and large my biggest “tool” was my 17″ MacBook Pro. But now that I’m back in Western North Carolina and 90% of my worldly possessions fit into this 31-foot Airstream trailer, I’ve been able to pull out a few of my writing desk essentials and really settle in.
More important than a good chair…even more important than proper lighting…is my Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, first introduced to the market in 2005. Yes, that’s a long name and this external keyboard that hooks up via USB to my laptop is worth every syllable of its name and then some. Given the number of hours I spend at the desk, I just can’t pluck away on my built-in (however sleek) MacBook keyboard. Like most laptops, if you maintain good posture when you type, you end up having to straighten your hands and fingers in order to hit the keyboard keys properly. This requires holding the wrist at an odd angle, which in turn shifts the forearms. If you’re like me, and carry your stress in your shoulders, this quickly radiates up the arms, forcing your shoulders inward to a hunch to accommodate the angle of the hands.

Two weeks ago the l key died on my 4000 and, after some dusting and power air cleaning, when the backspace and period (.) keys also went kaput, I decided I’d gotten my $50 and five years worth out of the puppy and bid for a new one on eBay. Sleek black, with leather wrist rests and removable fittings to adjust up or down, this split-keyboard with a natural wave shape saves me at least a dozen annual trips to the chiropractor. A writing desk essential? You betchya.

A close second has to be my Gaiam Yoga Ball Chair. (If this blog post reads like a product promo please forgive…but let’s be honest here, all writers know they have their fave pens and paper, right down to the brand name and the color of the ink.) You can bounce, you can roll, you can sit still, you can lean back, you can perch. Best of all, you can laugh till you cry when you get the owner’s manual, which includes these demo pics of “work day workouts” you can use your chair for between meetings. You won’t catch me doing these, but you’ll certainly see me sitting down and getting up with ease over the course of the day. This thing is worth every penny–and it even comes with its own mini-pump.

Last but not least is my Podium Pad. Why this product isn’t more popular is beyond me, because it has surely extended the life of my computer, decreased the strain on my neck, and assisted me during many iPhoto slideshow sharing sessions. It’s a stand that adjusts to three different heights, is thin enough to fit into my laptop case, and swivels all the way around so that I can show an audience what I am looking at without a projector. Most importantly, it keeps the bottom of my laptop cool (especially when running Netflix or iMovie) and lets me keep my neck and chin at a comfortable angle throughout the day.

It never dawned on me that I had so many preferences for my writing desk essentials until that l key died on my 4000. Perhaps next up I should write about my favorite pens…

  • Mary

    I just sit on the ball without the chair..doesn't the chair defeat the purpose? I've wondered about that. I also stand up a lot. Of course this is my work desk not my writing one but someday perhaps..

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