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Friday, 28 January 2011

Dress to Impress? What kind of writer are you?

I often fall out of bed and straight onto my laptop. 

Then I begin to write, all tousled haired, sleep lines creasing my face, jim-jams and dressing gown rumbled with sleepy dust still clinging to my eye lashes.

A friend, fellow writer and publicist, is horrified. 'Don't you have standards?' she asks, well, sorts of shouts really.

She is the really, really elegant type of woman who'd rather die than leave her house without makeup, neat hair and styled clothes. So to dress before she writes is essential for her:

'You wouldn't go to the office in your pyjamas, would you?' she asks.

'Well, no, but I'm not at the office. I'm at home.'

She almost interrupts. 'Your writing is your work. If you dress like you're going to work you'll be more productive.'

She has a point. Her desk is tidy, pens in a pen-holder, dictionaries, thesauruses, factual books are all arranged in alphabetical order. Her computer is dust free, and if there is a coffee cup on her desk you can guarantee it has a drink in it. She always practises a minimum of 5,000 words a day and her notebook is always close by (no suddenly sprung ideas on the back of receipts for her!).

Now visualise my desk, or rather, dining room table. I have THREE cups (two from this morning, the second from lunch). Pens are scattered, and I prefer to use on-line dictionaries and thesauruses, so no books as such, but there are a few (un-writing) magazines. I also share my table with today's post, a Darth Vader helmet that I promised to put the batteries in for my son but never got around to, and yesterday's mail.

I sit here in my 'jimmies' and fresh from sleep (not necessary refreshed) and can happily type when all around me is chaos.

I am the sort of mother who will drop her children off at school in her dressing gown and slippers, while praying the car doesn't break down.

My writing isn't organised. I don't write to a word count. Some days it's nothing, other days I can write chapters.

My friend thinks I would get much more done if I treated my writing like a job.

What do you think?

Clutter or unclutter? Other words... slob or toff?

11 comments:

  1. Tidy manner, tidy mind eh? Each to their own, whatever works is the best. I don't have a desk, but type on my laptop sat under the duvet if it's cold. Eat your heart out Barbara Cartland!

    marc nash

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  2. I like to jump right into writing in the morning, mug of hot coffee in hand and still in my jammies. But, I admit that I become a much more efficient writer once I've had my shower and dressed. What's interesting is I never articulated this in my mind. It's definitely true though.

    Great post!

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  3. Hmmmm, and I the "friend" Louise?

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  4. @Jane er, yes. But a very lovely, elegant toff.

    @Sulci, under a duvet? That's my thinking!

    @Nicole, It's interesting that you say you're more efficient once dressed and showered etc. But please, don't give Jane fuel!

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  5. Hi,

    When I write I seem to be at what makes me comfortable. Most times I am in my pj's but that is just me.

    I never really understood the meaning of dressing for success. You can be successful naked if you really work hard for something. As long as you write, no matter how you're dressed, you will get to where you want to be.

    Paula

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  6. Each to their own, indeed. I personally believe that if you are tidy you'll have tidy writing. This applies to life in general: keep your life/person neat and life will be orderly too.

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  7. Louise, I'm a bit like Jane. I need to be tidy, need everything pretty organised and I used to volunteer for a cancer-support organisation called 'Look Good, Feel Better.' That sort of encapsulates it for me.
    I just feel brighter and more able if I get up, get dressed, and get going!
    But its horses for courses. Whatever floats your individual boat etc.

    Ah, Sulcus: I never ever pictured you snuggling under a duvet. For some unknown reason anything but!!

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  8. @ Mesmered - I like to tease Jane. I do sort of see her (and your)point, but I don't think my writing suffers just because I slob about in my jimmies. Sometimes I'm so absorbed by it I could be naked and not realise! (Not a pretty sight!)

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  9. I like to write in a tidy place, dressed and organised. I like to edit in bed in my pyjamas. I don't always achieve either of these things, but there you go.

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  10. organized chaos (I love that phrase). I can write under many circumstances, using various tools, and I *try* to utilize a word count (if only to gradually get myself to write faster while maintaing (my crappy 1st draft) quality. however, I do my best work at night, when I'm left alone amidst my ordered chaos. if too neat and I have to find where I put reference materials, my notes, or whatever, I don't like it too much. I wanna be able to focus on the task at hand, not worry about where I put something and if I'll mess everything up searching for it.

    Organized chaos is my way of keeping things ordered while, at the same time, keeping the things I may want or need are readily accessible.

    Perhaps that's just being lazy, but it works for me. I can be easily distracted at times, and rather than being distracted more than necessary, i prefer to deal with a bit of 'mess'.

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