Give your body something to do while you write.

Writing is a physical as well as a mental act.

If you would like to receive new Elegant Legal Writing posts in your inbox, please subscribe:

Writing is a physical as well as a mental act, and you should keep an eye on how you are using your body as you work. Learn and follow ergonomic recommendations such as keeping your wrists straight, your hands at or slightly below the height of your elbows, and your monitor at eye level.[1]

Consider buying a standing desk or creating a makeshift standing desk.[2] In my home office, for example, I have two cheap or homemade standing desks: an empty bookshelf and a laptop stand. Be sure to buy an anti-fatigue standing mat to use as well. If you work while seated, take frequent breaks in which you stand up and walk around.

Another suggestion is to work outdoors or otherwise vary your writing environment. Nature can calm your mind, and any change of scenery can stimulate you and make you more alert. Variations like that can trick your brain into overcoming writing block and generating new ideas.

You can also find something to do with your hands and feet while at your desk. I carry a stress ball around and hold it when I’m thinking but not typing. I also keep a rolling foot massager nearby to keep my feet busy.


[1] See Mayo Clinic, Office Ergonomics: Your How-to Guide (Apr. 27, 2019). For other recommendations, check out Princeton University Health Services, Ergonomics & Computer Use.

[2] If you can afford it, one great option is a treadmill desk.

Subscribe for free to receive new Elegant Legal Writing posts in your inbox:

Please consider sharing this post with your networks:


Ryan McCarl (LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog) teaches Advanced Legal Writing at the UCLA School of Law and is a partner at the law firm Rushing McCarl.