Are You a Comfy Writer?

The Writer's Desk
The Writer’s Desk

By guest blogger Milli Thornton

The Writer’s Desk by Jill Krementz features 58 black-and-white photos of writers either at their desks or working in a favorite spot—such as Veronica Chambers sitting cross-legged on her kitchen counter working on her laptop. Each photo comes with fascinating thoughts from the writer on where and how he or she likes to work.

By far my most favorite is the picture of William Maxwell (1908-2000) sitting at his electric typewriter. Wearing two undershirts, white pajamas and a checkered robe, Maxwell leans on his elbow and stares unimpressed at the camera, embodying the seasoned writer.

In the photo he appears to be in his eighties, but his pajama habit did not stem from age. When Maxwell retired from The New Yorker they offered him an office to write in, which he said was generous since they were short on space. As fiction editor for forty years, I’m sure they felt he had earned it. He ultimately decided he had no use for a perk that would require him to put on his trousers and ride the subway downtown to his typewriter.

Maxwell explained how he habitually wrote at home in his sleeping gear until lunchtime. Everyone from the elevator man in his apartment building to the delivery boy from Gristedes was accustomed to seeing him like that.

“You can have me after I’ve got my trousers on,” he says in the book, “but not before.”

I might word it a little more delicately but I agree. Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) with a dash of sensory defensiveness, I have an issue with clothing in general. I’ve ruined new clothes trying to unpick the label because I can’t bear the feeling of it on my neck. I never wear jeans to write in—they cut off my circulation. (I never wear items that require ironing, but that’s another story.)

Hello Kitty writes with me in the winter
Hello Kitty writes with me in the winter

Pj’s are my ultimate comfort choice for writing. Whenever I do force myself to get dressed, the offending articles must pass the “Can I sit all day at my desk wearing this?” test.

In honor of this post, I’m clad in my Simply Vera Wang spring/summer/fall jammies that I got for a song during a Kohl’s sale. Both the design and fabric are heavenly . . . I always feel better the instant I shed my day clothes and slip into the stretchy top and pants.

Like Julia, who coined the term, I keep a dry-witted MEH (My Engineer Husband) around the house. He works at home like I do so he sees how late I get dressed. And I sometimes change back into my Vera Wangs so soon after dinner, MEH will joke, “New wardrobe?”

Aspiring novelist Susan Smith of the San Antonio area is passionate on this subject and believes pajamas help her get more writing done.

“Why do I write in my pajamas?” she said. “Besides my jammies being so darned comfortable (I am one of those people who has to munch to be creative so a relaxed waistband is a must), I think it has to do with the mindset of putting the usual chores of the day to one side.

“When I get up in the morning but don’t get out of my jammies, it’s like I’m saying ‘no’ to the whole mundane mess that normally consumes my daythe cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, the bills, the phone calls, and so on. If I’m not dressed for any of this, I certainly can’t do any of it, and since I can’t do any of it, then the only thing I can do is write. Twisted logic, to be sure, but it works for me.”

@IQOkie's writing robe
@IQOkie’s writing robe

Her favorites are “a terrific pair of worn-out flannels with teddy bears and glow-in-the-dark stars on them.”

Writer @IQOkie from Tricia Sutton’s Blog, who admits she’s “prone to comic misadventure,” became my hero after she appeared in her bio pic on my Fear of Writing blog wearing what she calls her writing robe. I had never contemplated having myself published wearing jammies, but after seeing Tricia’s couragenay, nonchalancein this department, I decided I could follow bravely in her footsteps and be on the Internet in my Hello Kitty winter jams.

During an intimate email interview @IQOkie had this to share: “My summer writing attire is very loose clothing. Bra optional, though I usually option not. The robe is my winter attire, even if I’m wearing street clothes underneath. I’m cold bloodeda reptileand a sweater is too light and a jacket too bulky. A robe is just right.”

Hear, hear, baby bear.

Are you a comfy writer? Or can you write in fashionable attire without a thought for comfort? What is the most bizarre thing you’ve ever worn to write in?


Milli ThorntonMilli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver’s Travels and the Fear of Writing Blog, and coaches writers at Writer’s Muse.