“Design a uniform for a job that doesn’t normally have one.”
My third grader and I discussed this prompt today after school. Emma suggested that I create a writer’s uniform where all the elements are specifically labeled with concrete nouns: hat, name tag, shoe, etc.
I liked that concept. Clear, specific language for clear, specific things.
This is particularly appealing to me in light of all the euphemisms I encounter in business communication. Tell me:
- Would your company want you to wear a “hat,” or a “cranial protective apparatus featuring branded emblems and messages”?
- Would your employer give you a “name tag,” or a “personal identification label, branded with company logo and fashioned from recycled materials to reflect the organization’s sustainability mission”?
- Would you be expected to wear “shoes,” or “safe, sturdy, close-toed footwear designed to safeguard the stability and mobility of the company’s human resources”?
Thinking about all this, I said to Emma: “You know what? I don’t want to wear a uniform at all.”
“Yeah,” she said. “You’re a writer. Writers should just wear regular, comfortable clothes.”
Amen, sister. Stretchy pants. Soft, warm socks … but no shoes, so I can fold my legs in my chair, pretzel-style, when I’m relaxing into a project. Funky earrings. A great scarf. And just enough make-up to be presentable when a client tries to connect by FaceTime or Skype.
In other words, this writer’s garb is anything but uniform.
- Maybe the socks match; maybe not.
- Maybe the colors are subdued; maybe they compete with the wall color and everything else in the room.
- Maybe the sweater is in vogue; maybe it’s “so last year,” because last year’s styles were warmer and roomier across the shoulders.
This writer is all done with “uniform.”