The Writer’s Integrity Belt

The other day medieval chastity belts came to mind–not sure whether they were fact or fiction–but the concept inspired me as something writers could adapt for their own purposes. Not to stay chaste, but to keep from constantly getting up to attend to urgent but less important tasks–the ones that all come to mind when you’re trying to sit and write.

The “Writer’s Integrity Belt” (or, the “Prolific Writer’s Belt” perhaps) would enclose both seats: yours and the chair’s. It wouldn’t be metal or anything super uncomfortable–it could be canvas, something that breathes. There would be a lock on it, with a timer–so you just program the length of time you need to stay put. (Be sure to use the restroom first, of course.)

So, then, all that antsy jumping up and down could be contained. Who needs willpower? You have a canvas “harnass” and a lock to keep you in your chair, writing for the entire 30 minutes (if that’s your goal).

Writing space

My former writing area, the chair from which I kept jumping up.

The thought occurred to me that this might pose a security issue, but in case of fire, I’m pretty sure I could still run through the house and down the stairs and out the door with the chair still strapped to my arse. (In fact, just to test it, I held the chair to my rear and walked out of my room and through the upstairs loft toward the stairwell. Thankfully, none of my housemates were home. I’m pretty sure they think me quirky enough already.)

If needed, there could be an emergency release. But, to keep the writer from using the emergency release for any other reason than a real emergency–a tornado has felled trees through the house and made the escape route too narrow for you and the chair still attached to your rear, for example–the emergency release would shock you. You would know it shocks you (just enough to avert cheating, but not enough to maim small children), so you leave it alone.

I read a blog once about one of the greatest copywriters of the 1960s–whose name I’m forgetting–whose process included sitting steadfastly in front of his typewriter for 30 minutes at a time. He could drink his coffee, stare at the wall, or write. But he couldn’t do anything else. No reading, no other tasks, no getting up from his chair. He apparently didn’t need the Writer’s Integrity Belt nearly as bad as I do–he was one of the most prolific copywriters ever, and he only worked three hours a day.

I love reading about writers’ processes. They almost always include staying put in their chairs.