Loree Lough

With nearly three million books sold, best-selling author Loree Lough’s titles have earned 4- and 5-star reviews and dozens of awards. Reviewers and readers alike call her “a gifted writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives.” Her 9/11 novel From Ashes to Honor (#1 in First Responders series, Abingdon) hits bookshelves to coordinate with the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Loree lives near Baltimore and loves spending time at her teeny tiny cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves to show off her talent for correctly identifying critter tracks. Visit Loree at http://wwwloreelough.com.

Loree's Lough Down

All Dressed Up with No Place to Go?

During the Q&A session that concluded a recent speech, a workshop attendee asked if I believe it’s important to live the scenes I write. By that he wanted to know if I wear a fancy ball bootsgown when writing about an antebellum gala, or a Stetson and cowboy boots to write a Western. My answer (that I sometimes “act out” what characters are doing but not while wearing period clothing) did not satisfy him, and it got me to thinking about the go-to-work version of “you are what you eat.”

Whether you’re a full-time writer or you put in a grueling forty hours before tackling your latest WIP, you’re aware of the old Dress for Success rules: Well-groomed hair, neat ’n’ tidy clothing, clean shoes, tasteful makeup and jewelry, etc. The objective, say the experts, is to let your choices send understated “what kind of worker I am” messages to coworkers, clients, and bosses. Wear something pink and tell the working world that you’re gentle and able to communicate, while black says you’re independent and disciplined. (Stay away from the water cooler if you like orange, because the color not only stimulates appetites, it stimulates overactive conversation, too.)

Studies confirm that every clothing choice we make sends subtle messages to ourselves, too—messages that affect our emotions and, ultimately, shape our performance—as well as interactions with coworkers, clients, and bosses.

But what if, like me, you spend 95 percent of your working hours alone in a basement office, and your only interaction is with a household pet? The dog doesn’t know the difference between a sweat suit and a tux . . . and wouldn’t care if he did. Ask a cat if she’d rather curl up on a lap blanketed by a plush velour robe or a twill business suit, and she’d vote paws up on the robe, every time. And the only clothes our characters care about are those we force them to wear.

We authors love to joke that two of the hundred or so reasons we love doing what we do for a living is because we get to set our own hours, and we get to stay in our PJs all day long if we want to. Which raises the question: How does what I wear to work affect my job? I mean, if appearance, emotions, and productivity go hand in hand, it stands to reason that if I’m wearing a freshly laundered and pressed blouse and crisp trousers when I roll up to my desk, the stuff I write will be fresh and crisp, too.


Then how are we to explain the thousands of published authors who write entire chapters every day—several days in a row when

on deadline—garbed in ratty flannel PJs? Of the dozens of writers I know well, only one daily coifs her hair, puts on makeup and jewelry, and dons a legitimate outfit before heading to her basement office. Granted, her output is impressive, not only in word count but in quality of story. But I can say the same thing about writer pals who write while wrapped in tattered sweaters, high school jerseys, and “that shirt my dad used to wear when white bootschanging the oil in his pickup truck”

It’s all about comfort, I told the workshop attendee: If you’re physically comfortable in full Union soldier regalia and believe it contributes to your story somehow, by all means, button up that blue jacket! If a ball gown or a Stetson or scuba mask is what it takes to blend authenticity into your story? Go for it.

But if bunny slippers and a holey sweatshirt help you accomplish the same thing, may the muse be with you.

Happy writing, friends, and I’ll see you at the costume shop!


Honor Redeemed