My Writing Cave or Death-by-sedentary-screen-staring

Last fall, I made my annual pilgrimage across the river to the Surrey Writers Conference where Arthur Slade regaled the audience with a tale of survival – a treadmill desk saved him from death by writerly life. I had to have one – only my life was at stake.

For Christmas, my husband presented me with my own treadmill desk.

To my great disappointment, I could not write while on the treadmill, not even for a few minutes. Screen watching combined with the motion of walking, soon left me nauseous. I have no problem with motion sickness in boats or airplanes, even during stormy weather, but the treadmill desk took me out in under five minutes.

The treadmill remains set up, facing my desk, where it mocks me…I climb on occasionally but the dream of effortless fitness has evaporated.

So, I have fallen back to plan B – gardening as salvation for my word obsessed days of sedentary screen staring. Fortunately, I live in the pacific northwest, where gardening is possible year round.

The best thing about my writing room is that it has two doors. The second door leads directly to my garden. Gardening frees my imagination. It occupies my hands while my mind creates. Soon I am ready to return to my writers cave. I drape my gardening gloves over the treadmill arm, where they are handy the next time I am drawn back outside, to ponder, to dream, to get a little exercise.

I haven’t completely given up on the treadmill desk. If anyone has found a solution to the motion sickness side effect, I’d love to hear about it.


I am the final stop on today’s mystery writer blog roll.  Wednesday’s topic is James Frey and Dan Brown.  I won’t be participating because I’ll be getting ready to head to the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland.

Today’s roll:

Ryder Islington

Kathleen Kaska

Mollie Cox Bryan

and Me!

Thanks for dropping by.



  1. First, I LOVE the look of your blog. Second, wish I could help you with that motion sickness. I have the same problem, not with the treadmill–I’ve never tried that. But cars? Forget it. I couldn’t read or write in a moving vehicle if my life depended on it. I love this quote: “Gardening frees my imagination. It occupies my hands while my mind creates.” I think the spaces in between the times we are at our computer are every bit as important. How wonderful that you have your garden.

  2. A garden is a lovely place to find inspiration; full of life, mystery, beauty—a cycle that offers us a beginning, middle and end before starting over again. I don’t know about writing on a treadmill, though. I think your plan B is the way to go.
    Wonderful blog.

    • KTWagner KTWagner says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      Your words speak to me. I lose myself in the garden, I think it is the sense of being a part of something bigger, greater – it is also the hundreds of tiny miracles, like a seed sprouting, there to observe and nurture.

      Thanks for sharing,


  3. I too have dreamed of the treadmill desk. I saw a show on tv about a company who doesn’t have anything but. They walk really, really slow…about 1/2 mile per hour. Their movement is very tiny, but very effective. We’re you walking too fast maybe?
    Loved the article. I have a great garden too, but my son tends it because my back and knees yell strenuously at me if I try. At least I can enjoy the beautiful butterfly bush, the lush tomato plants and my growing willow tree.
    Can’t wait to see your next article.

    • KTWagner KTWagner says:

      Hi Ryder,

      Speed may be the problem (that doesn’t sound good!) but I walked as slow as possible given the limitations of the machine and my tendency to trip over my own feet. Sigh.

      My next experiment is an exercise ball in place of my desk chair.

      I adore butterfly bush and have planted one pink, one purple, one blue and a rather cool variegated leaf one.

      Happy gardening,


  4. Good post, KT! I love gardening, too. I can’t garden year-round, but I find when I can it’s a wonderful way to relieve stress and even figure out my plots!


    • KTWagner KTWagner says:

      Hi Nancy,

      I used to garden in Ontario, so I know how loooong winter can be. I have two words for you – Seed Catalogs!

      Thanks for dropping by,


  5. A bike might work. One of the upright bikes (not recumbant bikes). Just build a desk over top of the handles. I’ve yet to build it, but I definitely need to. Today I’ve been writing for less than an hour and my body already aches.

    Have fun in Portland!

    • KTWagner KTWagner says:

      A bike sounds like it might work, but I thought the same of a treadmill. I’d like to test out one before springing for the whole set up.

      I am looking forward to the conference, just not the drive down!


  6. Thanks so much for this story. I was trying to get some straight info about the treadmill desk and motion sickness. I had a feeling that he people who were saying it was not problem didn’t really HAVE motion sickness. I cannot read in a car on in a plane, so I’m pretty sure this would make me sick – which is a BIG DRAG! I was so fired-up and um… ready to go.

    Thanks for saving me $$ and nausea.

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