Whatever the stereotype is about book worms not knowing how to dress is a little too true for me. I can pick out clothes, but accesorizing, applying more than three-minutes’ worth of makeup, and keeping my hair looking decent for an entire 12–24 hour period are beyond me.
Still, I can’t help trying every hair product out there, sure that someday, if I ask enough people and try enough things, my hair will look like the models.
Here’s my current collection of what it takes to make my hair look halfway to decent:
And for whatever ridiculous reason, I’ve been thinking about this in terms of writing. See, it’s not just about the product; it’s about experimenting to find how much to use, when to apply it (on wet hair? damp hair? dry hair?), and what order to use each product in. Lately I’ve been putting in Super Sculpt, mousse, thickening cream, and pomade, followed by blow drying, volumizing hair spray (and yep, I’m killing the environment with the aerosol — crap), straightener, then anti-frizz finishing spray (more ozone depletion there, too).
Maybe I’m only giving these details in hopes that someone who knows something about hair will leave a comment saying, “No, no, no. For starters, you need to be buying this other brand, and you definitely need to get straightener X, which will make all the difference.” Or something. Kind of like the time I used a grocery store box of brunette dye and my hair went red in a gross way, and then one of my students said, “No, no, no. Never use brunette dye from a grocery store. You have to go to a salon shop and get the ingredients to mix it yourself.”
Anyway, the point is that finding your writing process feels a lot like this sometimes. It’s trial and error. You learn what doesn’t work faster than you learn what does. You ask for help along the way, attending writing workshops and conferences to see what tools other people find useful.
But of course, just like my stringy thin, semiwavy-in-a-nonsexy-way hair is different from other people’s thick ’fros or out-of-control curls or other challenges, you’re still the one who knows your creative process best, even if you haven’t perfected it yet. You have to keep experimenting, keep trying different techniques until the result is what you want. You can collect tips, but you still have to work them out yourself.
Currently, I’ve got the start-with-the-characters thing going on, and that’s working pretty well for me, followed by sort of stalking them for a while to see what’s up in the story and writing a blind draft (no outline). I apply a powerful straightener after that, flattening out the kinks, but then it takes a ton of volumizing after that to flesh out the scenes again (once I’m sure I’ve got the right ones in place). Of course, frequent cuts are necessary just like with hair to keep it healthy-looking. Also, there’s the occasional plucking of gray hairs: removing an entire character or something that’s just not working.
Okay, yeah, this whole post was a stretch. But you get what I’m saying, right?
Now, seriously: any hair tips?