I’ve done a lot of talking about how to personally inspire ourselves, and who knows, maybe I’ll come back to that. But right now, I’d like to bring it back to what we’re actually all here to do: write. (I know, gasp! What?! Writing?! Who gave me the authority?!?) And I know I’m a little late on posting this today, but be assured: I’m late because I wanted to write my article on what I was doing.
…Well, kind of. Job hunting isn’t really inspirational, unless you’re looking for inspiration to jump off a bridge. But in any case.
I had two job interviews today, one at a very nice hair salon and one at a company which works with insurance underwriting. The salon appointment was at 9:30 in the morning, and the insurance company was at 11. I managed my schedule well enough so that I had a little bit of down time in the middle. What did I do with it? Go to the cafe right next to the salon and get coffee? Read a book? Anything like that?
No. I went home to change my clothes.
And clothing is a very interesting thing, both in the “real world” and in our writing. For the salon interview, I wore a nice black shirt and a black and blue striped skirt, with fancy black flats/sandals. Very chic, very fashion-ish, very feminine. Not in the least what I usually wear, but it fit the aesthetic of what I though the salon would like. (Since my last interview told me in no uncertain terms that a suit should be my only choice for interview apparel, I’ve started putting a lot more focus on what I wear…though I still don’t own a suit.)
When I changed, I wanted something more sharp, more professional to my eyes. I went home and changed into a white button-up, black slacks, dress shoes, my black vest and a cobalt blue tie. Instantly I felt more comfortable, more confident, more professional. It was like I’d upped everything positive in my mind to eleven. I walked into the interview feeling calm and positive.
I think both interviews went well, but it’s amazing what a difference in attire can make in the scheme of things. And it’s not just me–your characters will do this too. Do you have a character who always dresses one way, who then has to dress another for some reason? Is there a certain piece of clothing that makes them uncomfortable to wear, or conversely, something that bolsters their confidence whenever they have it on? That can be a very powerful piece to put into your character creation. Imagine if your main character always wears this one necklace that his mother/partner/sister gave to him as a child, and then the chain breaks–or he loses it–or it’s stolen along with some other items he owns. How does he deal with that? Does it paralyze him, or does it spur him into action? Does he abandon what he was doing to find it, or does he continue on and keep a weather eye on the horizon?
Take the other side: what if you have a girl working at a restaurant where all the wait staff wear ties, and she absolutely can’t stand the feeling of anything being that close to her throat? Does she keep the job? Does she try to wear the tie loose, or hope she can skip it altogether and no one will notice? Does she mention the problem to her boss or not? If she keeps the job and keeps the tie, what happens during work? Does something happen, like a panic attack or something akin to that? There are so many options, and we forget about them.
Think about it: what’s the one article of clothing you could own forever and never get rid of, as long as it stayed together? What’s the one thing you could never wear (or wear again) and it would be too soon? Tie in something like that with your character. Give them something small to care about, or to hate, or to worry about. You might be amazed with what you could discover.
Give me some ideas! Do you have a character with a habit like this with clothing? Do you have someone you could do that do? What’s their tick? Share a <500 word story about them and their clothes. I’d love to hear from you!