Writing is a bit like doing your own hair. It’s quite difficult to tame and often doesn’t end well. But with a little practice and professional grade styling serum, you too can publish a hair care-slash-writing guide. To achieve the full-bodied prose you’ve always dreamed of, follow these six easy steps:
1. Start in the bathroom. You’ll need to shampoo out any residual build-up from past notes, essays and poems — especially poems. Think of it as a hairy cleanse for your mental palate. If the water swirling ‘round tints a shade of grayish brown, a masterpiece will soon be found, or so the old proverb goes. Lather, rinse and repeat until you have a clean slate from which to pontificate.
2. Leave the house. Hair, like your writing muscles, is made from a porous biomaterial that requires daily conditioning. Apply a heavy masque of human experience; that is, inspiration found almost anywhere except the inside of your computer. Visit the great outdoors or, if you’re on a budget, the regular outdoors. Your writing muscles will thank you by absorbing the rich thickening “idea” nutrients found only in new surroundings.
3. Detangle your thoughts. Start at the top of the page and move downward in a gentle combing motion and make sure to give special care to the knottier sections. Note: Your mind may water a bit from a painful, pulling sensation at the scalp. But by smoothing out all of those dangly bits, you’ll have something you can really run your fingers through.
4. Class up your coif. You can do this with a blow dryer and another lesser-known tool called a “brush.” Whether your goal is the literary equivalent of a sexy tousle or a sleek up-do, your thoughts will need the direction and teasing a comb alone cannot provide. Styling tip: If you get stuck splitting hairs, try an em dash. Like a barrette, it allows you to separate some words from some other words in a way that looks intentional.
5. Move it or lose it. Before you add the finishing touches, share a rough mockup of what you envision your final hairdo will look like with at least one editor: a friend, colleague or even your dog. Then, reshape any areas that haven’t proven themselves structurally sound with a curling or straightening iron. Finally, use a strong yet flexible fixatif (brandy sour?) to tame those pesky flyaway sentences.
6. Submit your work for publication. The hardest part of writing or doing your own hair is convincing others to look at it with equal parts scrutiny and admiration. Remember, what you think is timely or attractive may not actually be timely or attractive. Plus, some editors just prefer a beehive to a bouffant, a payot to a perm, or rattails to ringlets. Don’t get discouraged.
Your hair will still be there tomorrow, waiting to take on a whole new form. That is, unless you decide to throw in the towel, shave it all off, and take up sailing instead — in which case you’re probably going to need that towel back. For further guidance on the matter, consult An Everywoman’s Guide to Windswept Rejection.
Sarah Kasbeer lives in New York City. Her writing can be found in cyberspace, in real space, and pretty much any other kind of space. Follow her various misadventures on sarahkasbeer.com.
Featured Image via Shutterstock.