Friday, October 31, 2014

What I've Learned about Writing from Project Runway

Project Runway's 13th season wrapped last week - and I was glued. Even more glued that usual. And I started to think about all the reasons why I love the show.

I mean, the fashion can be great- and hilariously awful - but what I think I love is watching the creative process happen on screen. And if you're looking, there are all kinds of parallels for writers. Here are some of the ones I notice most often -

1. Not everybody will get you.

I'm always amazed how much disparity there can be between the looks the judges love and the looks the other designers love. Different people will see different things in any piece of creativity, and will be looking for different things as well. So while there's value in receiving critique and input, don't expect everyone to share your vision.

2. You have the power to Make It Work.

Tim's "Make It Work" is, of course, legendary.  But what I love about it is that your power to make it work is implied. It's your vision. Not only are you capable of making it work, but it's your responsibility to see it through.

3. Sometimes you have to start over.

Sometimes your vision just doesn't pan out, for one big reason for a dozen tiny ones. So having the wisdom to know when to scrap it is a good place to be.

4. Edgy is not a word to aim for.

So many people throw the word "edgy" around that it's lost any relevance. Is it supposed to mean that it's dark? Progressive? Subversive? I suppose it's accurate if your story is set on a cliff, but otherwise choose a description with more heft. Better yet, commit to your story and vision without worrying about being perceived as cool.

5. Execution is important.

Seems, sentences, hems and chapter endings - these are things worth getting right. A lot of small details make a huge difference in the final product.

6. Voice is even more important.

Voice is hard. I don't think you can teach it so much as find it and learn to trust it. Voice requires a strong sense of self, and a fearlessness to do things differently.

7. Editing matters.

Voice without editing will come out as noise, at worst, and merely cluttered at best. What I really loved about watching Season 13 was the importance of editing among the designers. Sandhya Garg had a very specific voice and point of view - there was no denying that she had plenty to say. But as the show filmed, it became clear that she hadn't yet learned to take criticism or self-edit.

In contrast, Amanda Valentine listened to her critiques - and then parsed through what ideas and feedback would be utilized.

I hope we see more of Sandhya, I really do. But I was devastated when Amanda didn't win, because I have so much respect for her process and creativity.

8. Focus on your own work.

The designers who spend more time on their own garments and less time creating drama with their peers? Yeah, they do better. Don't let jealousy or insecurity distract you from your work. Neither emotion will make you better at finishing a zipper or completing a chapter.

That's all I've got for now, though I may think of more during the upcoming season of All Stars. I'm super excited for the All Stars, partly because I'm very interested in a number of the returning designers. But ALSO excited because author Allison Pittman and I will be recapping the season together! So check back Saturday Monday - the first installment will be right here! Come for the fashion commentary, stay for the snark.

And...just because it was one of the major moments of the season, here's the Rainway Show, for your enjoyment -

What did you think about the last season of Project Runway? Are you planning to tune into All Stars? Did you forget to DVR the first episode like I did? Sound off in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! Particularly liked the bit about the snark. :)


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