Do you dress for success?


If you’ve been reading Writerly Goodness for any length of time, then you’ll know that I’m fascinated by process, my own and others’.  I love to find out how other creative people do what they do, their sets of rules and their arcane rituals.  On Facebook, I often share the tips and tricks I find on my blogly ramblings, and secretly, I take a certain perverse pleasure in how many of those rules I break, and how many guidelines I defy.

Writerly Goodness aspires to the transgressive, but only rarely does she manage the faithful leap such actions require.

In May of 2011, I attended the Canadian Authors Association’s CanWrite! Conference.  Workshop host Barbara Kyle offered many writing tips, but the one that stays in my mind is this: dress for success.

Why?  I suppose it’s because I don’t, but more on that in a bit.

Barbara stated that when she got up in the morning, she was always careful to dress appropriately, as if for work: business casual.  She said that this practice honoured her work and her as its creator.  Dressing for work meant that she was serious about her writing, that she wasn’t taking anything for granted, and that she wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time, not hers, not her readers’, and certainly not her agent’s, editor’s, or publisher’s.

I agree that one should dress appropriately for one’s work, but to me, that depends entirely on what your work and life is like.  Let me ‘splain …

Writing is Barbara’s second career, after a successful first career as an actress.  She stopped acting to become an author and made the decision to write full time.  The temptation for someone in that position would be to become part of the pyjama patrol, roll out of bed, and stumble to the computer.  Barbara worked hard at her first career and knew the value of discipline, however; she knew that the slovenly writer’s life was not for her.

I don’t have that luxury.  I have to work and I have to dress appropriately for work.  When I get home of an evening, it’s actually part of my ritual to dress down for my writing.  Phil and I call this transforming into ‘comfort woman’ 🙂

I need to shed one professional self to become another, and my professional writer wants to be comfortable.

Right now, I’m in my shortie penguin pj’s, and damn, do I feel good!  You might have the urge to equate me to Michael Douglas’s character in Wonder Boys who wore the same bedraggled housecoat to write in every day … and discovered he was hideously blocked!  That would be a mistake.

I have a reason to dress as I do when I write.  That in no way means that I am any less diligent or devoted to my craft.  It simply means that my definition of appropriate dress is different.  So I’m comfortable saying that I still dress for success.

Process is different for every writer.  That’s why I find it so fascinating.

What about you?  How do you dress for success?  What does that mean for you?

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8 thoughts on “Do you dress for success?

  1. I think getting dressed can be an important aid in mental organization. It is true that I’m more likely to do chores if I’m dressed down to the shoes.

    But writing? As long as it’s quiet and I’m left alone, I can write. I can write naked, in my robe, in my nightgown, in my grungy clothes, in my work clothes, in my medieval clothes… whatever. (And yes, I’ve written during all of those stages of dress.)

    In fact, I’d recommend that people dress to get into character, whenever applicable. Writing a historic novel? Dress the part! Have a sexy character? Put on your sexy outfit. Drag the formal out of the closet when your MC goes to a cocktail party.

    I know from medieval re-enacting that dressing the part helps acting the part. Why not use dress to help you THINK the part?

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