I have sacred writing pants—pants I only wear when I write.
They’re grey Aeropostale sweatpants with a yellow stripe down the leg. They’re about 7 years old. They were once my daughter’s and were so ratty even she, of the grunge generation, didn’t pack them when she went to college, so I stole them. They don’t really fit me. I have to roll them at the waist so as not to trip.
Full disclosure: I actually have a sacred writing outfit.
On the top of these ratty sweatpants I wear a red, long-sleeved, 2-layer cotton tee that is soft and warm. The inside layer is gray and the outside is red. I’d never wear it out of the house because it looks like I picked it out of the bottom of the hamper, (which I didn’t), but I think even if I ironed it, it wouldn’t be presentable for even Wal-Mart, or a dog walk at night with no moon.
Over that I wear a gaudy, printed, half-zip fleece from REI, (also from Emily’s discard pile).
Thor-lo socks complete the ensemble.
No underwear. Ever.
This is the “Sacred Writing Outfit.” The writing is not sacred, nor is the outfit. Or maybe both are.
It’s the putting on of the outfit that’s sacred. Putting it on signals that writing is going to happen.
It’s like vestments for a priest.
It’s like an apron for a cook.
It’s like a smock for an artist.
It’s like a tie for a banker.
It’s like a uniform for a athlete.
It’s like a bathing suit for a swimmer.
It’s like Carhartts for a mechanic.
It’s like a tool belt for a carpenter.
When I put these particular clothes, I know that I am ready to head down into the deep recesses of my brain, like a miner looking for gold. It’s dark and dangerous down there and I won’t be surfacing for a few hours, so I need to be comfortable. I can’t be distracted by my clothes. They have to be soft, comfortable and not distracting in any way.
Putting on My Sacred Writing Outfit ritualizes what is a rather mundane, often boring activity. It elevates my writing time into something special, or just something I do consciously.
After I finish my writing for the day, I immediately change into different clothes. I never wear my sacred writing clothes outside, ever.
So I ask you:
Is there something you do that you’d like to ritualize, make special, set apart in some way? Maybe you could find a hat, a piece of jewelry, a certain pair of shoes, a shirt, a scarf, something you decide you will wear to signal that your special activity is about to begin.
Everyone needs some version of sacred writing pants.