Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to be a Writer and Not Look Like the Homeless

I crawled into bed last night at 230am.  My husband was uncharacteristically awake.  I know this, because he rolled over and goes, "Really?"  It occurred to me that we really were living on completely different schedules.  He gets up at, like, 415am, literally less than an hour sometimes after my muse releases her stranglehold on me and allows me to creep through the house, locking things, turning things off, and trying to find my own bed in the pitch dark without killing myself by tripping over the following: a fan, a baby stroller, a series of increasingly larger and more lethal Lego's, and various shoes that are A) not mine and B) were NOT there when I cruised through earlier when the lights were on.  But I digress.

Because I have been unemployed for four months now, I have the luxury of writing late, and now, getting up later in the morning.  And also, not getting dressed.  At least, not in my normal Corporate America uniform that has been my norm for the past, oh, eighteen years or so.  It was weird at first, but now, I have to say, I have acclimated.

But I passed a mirror the other day after my daughter asked me if I had brushed my hair.  What? I asked.  I have a claw clip in.  It's stylish.  My five year old rolled her eyes.  I went back to the mirror.  Was something wrong with my ensemble?  Did cutoff shorts, a torn tank top and flip flops not pass the test anymore?  Then I realized that I HAD worn these short a few days in a row now.  Who cared?  They were comfortable and no one ever saw me except the grocer and her soccer coach.  And then I realized I hadn't worn closed-toes shoes in more than three months.  In fact, husband and I had a date the other night and I wore them to that as well.  Was that wrong?

Okay.  It was time to face up to it.  I was just a wash load away from looking homeless.  I needed to reassess.  I'd worked from home before, so it wasn't that.  OMG.  It was because I'd started WRITING as my job.  But, the first step is admitting you have a problem.  So, I am here, qualified to help YOU before you fall into the same trap.  So, here it is.  My list for How To Be A Writer and Not Look Like the Homeless!

  1. Shower.  Everyday.  Even if you hate blow-drying your hair (which I do, intensely), get in the shower, everyday at the same time.  Routine begets creativity.  I know that sounds lame, but it's true.  If you have an appointed time to write, pretty soon, you actually will. Taking a shower gives the impression you are preparing to "go" somewhere.  You are. You are going to "Go" sit your ass down and write. 
  2. Never wear the same outfit two days in a row.  Change it up even if all you're going to do is Skype.  Trust me.  We can tell if that's the same shirt.  And we will message each other about it.
  3. For men, put on a little cologne, for us gals, spritz on the 'fume.  Smelling nice makes anyone feel brand new. Who knows?  Brand new you might mean a brand new idea.  Try it.
  4. If you can, get a pedicure.  You're at home.  I know I can't pry those flip flops off your feet, but at least spruce up the little piggies.  I can't afford one right now (are you buying my books?) so me and my daughter do a home version.  Not as nice, but twice as fun and besides, you all don't see them.  Don't ask.  Won't ever happen.
  5. Resist the urge to tie anything flannel around your waist.  I cannot stress this enough. The whole grunge thing is so over and also, even the word sounds like it should be laundered.
  6. Go outside.  Often.  That feeling where your eyes hurt and you feel like you are being singed?  That's the sun.  Try it out.  If you don't, that's when you look like a tunnel-person, not the homeless.  That's when the homeless have it over on you.  They at least go outside.  Okay, maybe they LIVE out there, whatever.  Move on.
So, you can see how easily a writer can be mistaken for the homeless. And how quickly you can fall into the quicksand of being a writer but looking like the homeless.  And don't think I am targeting only you. I have been guilty of ALL of the above, so trust me when I tell you, I know whereof I speak.  So, to paraphrase from a very famous quote:  Friends Don't Let Friends Look Homeless.  Do your part and tell a friend.   I just did.  TTYL.


  1. FYI, if you see someone looking like this, slouching out of the grocery store at 2am, I'm not saying it isn't me. I'm not saying that.