Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Writer's Life: Dress for Success (Or Yes, I am Wearing Pants)

My typical fall through spring attire

City Girl Interrupted

This is not only a Writer's Life but also a life-life post. Over the past couple of weeks, many of you became sudden teleworkers.
That was my story nearly twelve years ago. My husband took a new job in a small town just as the economy was about to do a nosedive. Suddenly this city girl was the mom of a preschooler and newborn over 3 hours from the nearest office. The day I came back from maternity leave, I began the process of becoming a remote worker.
What does that have to do with writing? Well, my writing journey began about three years after our move.
By the time I began writing, I had the discipline of working from home and thinking of myself as a professional writer (even if I wasn't published) was an easy transition.
So let's talk about how to take your writing seriously, and it starts with your shirt.

Cliches Abound

There are so many cliches and stereotypes of remote workers and that are applied to writers as well.
The whole unshaven teleworker in grubby sweats image has been around since my first job in the mid-90s when I was a remote worker in the nascent days of laptops and the internet, back when we had dial-up modems.
It's partial truth that needs to disappear or at least be re-imagined.

Dress for Success

This afternoon ironing button-downs and not just as an excuse to binge on Anne with an E. Most days I wear button-down shirts to work although I rarely leave my home office, even before COVID-19 and social distancing.
I get up and get ready each morning like I have to go to an office. Over the past 12 years, I've become more diligent about this because I realized dressing nicely gives me confidence, and the routine of "going to the office" makes me more efficient at work. Writers, this applies to you too. They say to dress for the job you want. Obviously, writers don't necessarily have to "dress up" for their writing days, but there are book signings, interviews, teaching at conferences, etc. Professional authors, are well, professionals and on occasion have to dress professionally. If you want to be a professional writer, entering the mindset by donning the uniform can be a good start.

There Are Exceptions

That isn't to say, if you dropped in on me, I'd be dressed. I live in the western U.S. and some days I don't get around to showering until the afternoon. I work with team members and clients who are Back East and up to three hours ahead of me. Depending on my meeting schedule, I occasionally start my day before my kids are on the bus and don't have a good break until well after lunch. And sometimes, especially in the summer, I don't bother taking a shower until I've gone for a run.

How else would I have my "how I scared away the religion peddlers" story? It's one of my favorites. A few years ago, I was having a busy day and still in pajamas in the afternoon, not just any pajamas but Hello Kitty with fuzzy bottoms pajamas. The doorbell rang and assuming it was a package, I answered the door to proselytizers. They haven't been back...

How I Do It

I pretty much dress casual Friday style with jeans and a button-down and real shoes (Converse, Pumas, Doc Marten Boots, other cute but comfortable boots or shoes).  In the summer, I have to admit I mostly wear geeky T-shirts and denim shorts; in the winter, especially when I'm behind on ironing, I wear a fair number of long-sleeved t-shirt. Starting this year, I'm planning on phasing out my super-casual summer clothes and opting for more tops and pants, tunics and leggings, and comfortable dresses.

I have embraced this because I am a professional and dressing like one helps me "get into character". The same goes for my writing life too. Although, since most of my writing is at night, I see a lot more pajama time during my writing hours.

Does how you dress help you "get into character" for roles in your life?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Gretchen! I work in a lab and my few co-workers, for years, only wore old jeans and t-shirts. I did too for a while, but then I started dressing up, wearing comfortable dresses or nicer tops, and have felt much better since.


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