Is she really that untidy?

Have you wondered what the deal is with the tagline for my blog: “She tried to look picturesque but only succeeded in being untidy?” It’s a quote from Oscar Wilde’s “A Picture of Dorian Grey” and refers to Victoria, Lord Henry Wotton’s wife. In the scene from which the quote was taken, Dorian is lounging around at Lord Henry’s house waiting for him when Victoria comes in. This is how the narrator describes her:

“She was a curious woman whose dresses always looked as if they had been designed in a rage and put on in a tempest. She was usually in love with somebody, and, as her passion was never returned, she had kept all her illusions. She tried to look picturesque, but only succeeded in being untidy.” There’s more of it, but that’s the bit I like.

I imagine you all read the blog title and the tagline and think to yourself, “that Meg must be a mess.” Well, not true, mostly. For one thing, I rarely wear dresses. Skirts, yes, because I can match them with a black t-shirt. My friends and family do roll their eyes at me though, because I tend to wear the same or similar things all the time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look nice, I do. Those fitted black t-shirts from H&M are very flattering. And no, I’m not too old to be shopping at H&M. Not for t-shirts, anyway. Besides, I am also cheap.

I guess I don’t easily tire of wearing the same things. I’ve always said I’d do well in an environment where someone told me what to wear. Like the army. Or prison, maybe. Frankly, it sure makes getting dressed in the morning easier and faster. I will not be the reason you are late getting out the door. Nevertheless, I assure you I am not untidy. I just really find those lines from ‘Dorian Grey’ amusing.

When you think of a writer, what image pops into your head? The disheveled man or woman, still in their bathrobe, sitting at the computer with coffee stains all over their images-1notebooks and crumpled bits of paper strewn across the desk and overflowing the wastebasket?

If you write full time, work from home and don’t actually have to see people face to face, would it be easy to slip into that habit? I think it could be. My office is in my home but seeing patients prevents me from sliding down that slippery slope of not bothering.

Imagine what that would do to one’s self esteem after a while. Not getting dressed, not fixing your hair or putting on makeup. Who cares? No one’s going to see you… That’s just one step away from: “I’m not worth it.”

I wrote a post in December about treating your writing like a job. Making time for it, being disciplined so that it doesn’t get shoved onto the pile of unfulfilled dreams. Let this advice be another aspect of that discipline: Take care of yourself. Get up and stretch, get some exercise. Come home and shower and put on the kind of clothes you’d wear for ‘casual Friday’.  It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, just presentable.  Ditch the sweatpants and at least put on jeans! I don’t know about you, but if I don’t get out of my pajamas, it feels like I’m home on a sick day.  Then I end up binge watching Netflix and no writing gets done anyway.

Don’t let your writing space turn into a dump, either. Granted, when you’re in the middle of a project, a certain amount of clutter is inevitable but don’t let it get out of hand! Wipe up the coffee stains, empty the wastebasket and whisk the crumbs off the keyboard. Wait till you see how much better that feels.

Will these habits help you find inspiration? Cure writer’s block? Help you edit more clearly? I say yes. Don’t believe me? Give it a try!

The tidy author, grey sweater for variety!

(Header image courtesy abc news)

47 thoughts on “Is she really that untidy?

  1. You’re looking very cute — and those were all great tips. I worked from home as a court reporter transcriptionist for a long time and it would have been easy to wear jammies all the time, but it does affect how you work (and scares the Fed Ex man when you answer the door)!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I got so wrapped up in the Canadian whiskey yesterday I forgot to answer about the snow. We got about 1/2 to an inch this morning, but I think that’s it for us for now. Hope you’re not in for anything major! I’m ready for spring!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You never struck me as untidy in either appearance or manner. Of course, I only have the one picture to go by…hehe. I have a lot of free time to write and I agree that it is very tempting to let Entropy take over and create Chaos, but I try to keep things as orderly as possible around here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The Child Bride often requires the services of a driver/navigator/bodyguard/man Friday that necessitates the wearing of clothing with pockets. Her Author-in-Residence then must arise from what she has determined is his usual sloth before a keyboard and get moving. Discussion is limited to, “Yes, dear.” But just before departure there sometimes comes her query of, “Are you going to wear those shoes?”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m completely unmotivated to do anything when I roll out of bed in pajamas and never get dressed. Writing and creativity would be impossible — I don’t even have the motivation to bring my dish back into the kitchen after having breakfast in front of the TV lol. So, getting up and getting going in a must for me. And keeping a tidy work space. A clean space is a happy space. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the picture! You look cool, Meg! 🙂
    I am a total sweatpants and sweatshirt kinda person at home and come winters my exercise regimen is gone for a toss, coz I like to run outdoors, hate being in a gym. And that means, most of winter I am indoors sulking!
    I should try cleaning up and changing my routine, maybe it will help clear my thoughts! Thanks for that gentle reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Every day I arise, shower and get dressed…regardless of the day ahead. I am currently not working for anyone so my timing is very much my own. I do take advantage of my lack of ties to shuttle my wife to her place of employment. That gives me a schedule of sorts right there dropping off and picking up at day’s end. Whether my day calls for writing or job hunting I always get up as if I have someplace to be. I don’t do the “sloppy look” well anyway. It’s just in my DNA to get cleaned up each morning and get moving. I do think it keeps my attitude positive, keeps me healthier, etc.The “home office” is simply put that everything has a place…no mess allowed…very tidy.That too helps keep me disciplined. I treat each day like a job’s to be done…an actual job, a job hunt, a blog post, etc. Totally agree with your thoughts here Meg!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I admit… I am absolutely untidy. If you can believe it, my husband is worse. I’d hate to think what our house would be like if we had ever had kids. Instead, we have pets, which just adds another level of what most people would probably call “tidy.” I haven’t yet been able to train the cats to put their toys away. Come to think of it, I haven’t been able to train my husband to do that either… Must be why I gave up on my own stuff a while ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s a whole thing by itself. My husband says his biography should be titled “My Life In Dog Hair” and sadly, he’s right on the mark. I’ve learned to ignore it, he has not. His mom was one of those moms who cleaned daily so that’s what he’s used to. I’m not even close to that tidy! But I’m a lot more fun than my MIL!


      1. Luckily, (or perhaps unluckily) neither of our mothers cleaned unless they had to.
        Could be why I focus more on having life experiences than what my house looks like – especially when my only guests are my foster cats!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Cute. Nice post. A cluttered work space has to be an obstacle for a writer. I want to sit on a clean space and concntrate on one thing – writing. I know the stereotype of a writer is the crumbled papers everywhere, but that is just not me. Always curious about your tagline. Dress for comfort is the way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Please do not take the following as a bid for sympathy; that is not what I do.

    Your paragraph ending in “I’m not worth it” could apply to me. i’ve never consciously thought I’m not worth it, but I do battle depression. I will often wait until late afternoon to get dressed and, shamefully, I don’t shower as often as I probably should. But I feel like it doesn’t matter.

    My life went off the rails on November 7, 2013 (not due to a death, though), and was further derailed the following August when I had to give up my apartment and move in with my sister and her family. I’m unable to work and lost my car. I’m still at my sister’s and everybody is gone during the day. I’m homebound unless my sister is off and I can borrow her car for a bit. I have to beg rides to doctor’s appointments. I HATE being dependent on anyone for anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting, Barb. I’m sure that wasn’t easy to share. I’m no mental health expert and of course the suggestions in this post aren’t going to fix the bigger issues, especially when you are battling depression. I struggle with anxiety myself. However, writing is a kind of therapy. I can attest to that. If you write/blog regularly, try to treat it as a job, with set hours. You are so worth it, my friend. And I know it’s not easy in the winter months, but getting a little exercise (if you are physically able) releases endorphins and can lift the mood even just a little. My door is always open, so stay in touch!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You always struck me as cool and the picture proves that. I like the idea of treating one’s writing like a job. It makes for better frame of mind. I love H&M as well and I doubt if there’s an age limit to decent clothing that doesn’t cost the bank.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is really good advice. Even if working from home, it’s more productive to pretend your work desk is a part of a formal office. Sometimes, I am able to get up and get going, sometimes not. I really should become more disciplined about following a proper dressing up routine. Else, it seems as if I am just lounging around at home and no writing actually gets done. 😦 So, you are quite right about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I tend to be an untidy writer! It’s something I am greatly ashamed off. When I am having a writing weekend locked up in the house, I am nowhere near presentable, in my PJs, and I end up watching Sherlock instead of writing. It is a fear I have for if I have to start writing full time. Will try out these pieces of advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You have shattered my lofty expectations about your general appearance. I want to forever cherish the frumpy, quirky girl, buried in piles of scribbles, lights getting shut off not for lack of funds, but because you simply forgot electricity actually costs money. The girl in the faded black cardigan, toothpaste cast-off splattering her chest, having ditched the jeans for unmatched sweats. My innocence is ruined like a child who first learns Santa is Dad.

    I refuse to accept it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it helps, I have a Rush concert t-shirt on under the grey cardigan (Moving Pictures tour) my jeans are “mom” jeans and the photo is taken from the side because I only had enough energy to put makeup on half my face. Better?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m unemployed at the moment and getting dressed and presentable is essential. Unemployment is already difficult… I don’t want to get into a pit of ‘who cares?’ or ‘why bother?’


    “I’d do well in an environment where someone told me what to wear. Like the army. Or prison, maybe.”

    Hahaha! Same here. I wear very similar clothes most days. And lots of black.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Another commenter said something similar. He’s currently unemployed and looking for a job. He says getting up and getting dressed, making himself a schedule, etc. really helps keep up his positive attitude.

    Seriously, everyone looks good in black!


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