How to Look Like a Writer
I don’t “look” like a writer much of the time, I dare say. I try to act and think like one, of course, but I don’t appear to be one.
Okay, yes. Yes. I know that there isn’t one look for all writers. I know that any attempt to define one would require perpetuating some goofy stereotype or the other. Writers come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and so on, and I know. Yet unlike a cultural, racial or religious stereotype, I think career stereotypes can sometimes, if we let them, have an element of fun attached to them, if we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Also, unlike the immoral stereotypes I mentioned above, certain careers can’t deny recurring tendencies that are quite common, all be they not universal. If you don’t believe me, go to Twitter and search for #amwriting with the phrase “my cat” along with it. Using “coffee” will provide a similar number of results.
A legion of writers have cats, and drink large quantities of coffee. Often enough that those things are sort of stereotypical “writer stuff.” I don’t think it’s horrific to have fun with that a bit. Especially since neither stereotype applies to me; I am allergic to cats and I do not like coffee. (I know.)
But back to “looking” like a writer.
We’ve established that there’s no dead give away look for a writer in every case. Yet sometimes I wonder if I would, “feel” writerish more often if I catered once in a while to some of the innocent stereotypical writer looks. Obviously I’m not going to walk around being inauthentic to myself in some painful, offensive way, so don’t worry about that. Yet maybe I could experiment a bit with this.
I could walk around with my ancient laptop in public more often. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do a lot of coffee shop writing. Once in a while I write in the library, though these days it’s not much quieter in there than in an average cafe it seems. But I could do it more often for the sake of projecting “writer” into the community ether. A lot of people have laptops however, so that alone wouldn’t convey “writer” per se. It’s a start, though.
Once upon a time, going a few days without shaving may have helped this cause, but anymore it seems that not shaving is the default position for a lot of dudes these days. Though I think the recent Beard Renaissance is waning, it’s still strong enough to not convey much of anything unique. Besides, I’m not talking beard, I’m talking some whiskers for a few days, which in the prevalent beardism of our day wouldn’t even be noticed. But for nostalgia, I can give it a try.
On the subject of hair, I could go a day or two without brushing mine. If not “writer” that often seems to convey an air of “creative type.” We’ll call that a maybe.
I do carry an idea notebook with me most of the time in public, but it’s pocket sized and not usually visible unless I’m actually using it. One plus here is that when I am using it, it’s so old and beat up it probably helps the image of “artsy dude” if people actually saw it. Maybe I need a bigger, fancier one to carry around outside of my pocket all of the time, one with a bunch of loose leaf paper stuffed into it here and there, because ideas.
No cigarette smoking for me, that’s a deal breaker. Depending on the environment I might MIGHT might keep a cold, empty pipe in my mouth for effect. I might.
Wearing black, there’s one! I could see myself walking around in mostly black for any number of reasons. (Not all of them romantic; it’s easier to hide a food stain on something black.) I’d avoid looking morbid, but I see promise in the wearing black deal.
What about corduroy? Does a corduroy jacket say “writer” or does it say “professor?” I’ll look further into that one. A jacket in general though probably helps. Black jacket of course over top a standard button down shirt? Yeah. (I just realized how much easier it might be to look like a stereotypical writer in the cooler months of the year…)
But not a beret. The beret is indeed probably one of the ultimate writer stereotypes. This is left over from the Beat era I would assume, but it’s more cartoonish than anything else. I mean, how many people of any type walk around in a beret these days? (Though this loser I once knew that wanted people to think he was a profound writer would allegedly spend hours drinking coffee and wearing a beret at the local Denny’s, jotting down ideas on paper the whole time. That image alone is enough to sway me from trying this.)
Pencil behind the ear? They don’t stay behind my ear very well, but I’m willing to throw that image into the mix. Pencil behind the ear it is. But I can’t chew on the pencil. That drives me crazy when other people do that for some reason.
So let’s review our “writer” look: (Probably) long pants or jeans. Button down shirt with a (possibly) corduroy jacket over top, all some shade of black. Sleeping in all of the above the night before would probably enhance the effect.
Slightly unkempt hair, and a few-days beard, (which, though probably not as effective as once upon a time, is still useful.) Unchewed pencil behind the ear, laptop and/or rugged notebook under one arm, and once in a while a pipe in the mouth. Maybe.
Then to the coffee shop I’d go. I’d order tea, and I’m told that tea is not as “writer-like” as coffee, but oh well. I can’t win them all. Sit there for a while and type and/or scribble. Looking off into space every once in a while as I try to think of something wouldn’t hurt either.
Sounds like a winner to me.
Not as much as spending time writing a blog post about looking like a writer, though. That’s the true giveaway of a writer, I guess.
Did I leave anything out? How else can I pursue looking like the “typical” writer for a day or two?
- Posted in: Writing