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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dress to Write

by Kellyann Zuzulo
You don't need to go quite this glam, but...
Would you take a meeting in your pajamas? No? Then don't write in your pajamas all day. There's a popular appreciation for the fact that a writer can schlump around in pj's or sweats. It's not adorable. It's schlumpy. Now go upstairs, throw some cold water on your face, brush out those tangles, buckle on a bra, and slick on some gloss.

Remember that dowdy plaid nightdress
(I had one like that...in 1984)
Don't take offense. This is what I tell myself. Yes, I--like countless other romance writers--watched Romancing the Stone in 1984 (when I was a mere neophyte, I might add). The character Joan Wilder, as played brilliantly by Kathleen Turner, was a wonderful writer. But insecure and dowdy. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) It seemed romantic and fun that a successful romance author could shuffle around her kitchen in her fuzzy slippers sharing ice cream with her cat. Let's remember, however, that she shortly got dressed, dashed out into the world, got undressed by degrees, and had a great adventure. Somehow, the writing in pajamas part stuck.

Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone
That's much better.  I wonder if she got more writing done.
I'm speaking for myself here after many years of dressing in stockings and blouses to go into an office and many years now working from home; but my advice is to cling more to the accessorized aspect of being a writer. Or at least the teeth-brushed-and-fresh-shirt aspect. I contend that it helps production.

Okay, let's not go over the top.
Every morning before the sun rises, I will creep to my desk directly from bed. Hair's a mess and the sweater is wrapped tight over sweat pants and long-sleeved tee. But once the regular world rises, so does this writer. I get the kids off to school, take a shower, put on a blouse (okay, so I indulge in daily jean wear), and, yes, I apply mascara and lip gloss (my lips get chapped) to come back to my desk to write. This is my job. I take it seriously. I take conference calls. Somehow, I just feel more professional. And, somehow, it extends to my writing. Deadlines are noted, research is filed, dialogue is evaluated, and a book gets written, chapter by chapter. I've noticed that when I have stayed in my pajamas past 11 a.m. (always due to a deadline), the work acquires the sheen of a guilty pleasure. It's a pleasure, yes. But I shouldn't feel guilty about it. And when I'm dressed for success, I don't.

My mother told me to always look my best, even when going to the supermarket. "You never know who you'll run into," she'd say. I think my characters appreciate my regard. Besides, in this age of technological socializing, you never know when you'll need to take a Skype interview about your suddenly blockbuster novel.

Now run upstairs and put on some underwear.

Best Wishes,
Kellyann Zuzulo
I also dress for my genie. Check him out in The Genie Ignites.
Now available from Boroughs Publishing Group.

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