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As a creative person, I love to watch other creative people at work. That’s why Project Runway is one of my all-time favorite shows. I don’t always agree with the judges—to the point that it actually upsets me sometimes—but the aggravation is worth the thrill of seeing the designers make something out of nothing. To me, there’s nothing better than that!
And while the show is about creating clothes, I've learned some things that have helped me with my literary journey. I’m a nice person, so I thought I’d share. Here goes:
1. You CAN be creative under pressure.
On Project Runway, the designers are tasked with creating entire dresses or outfits in mere hours. They are also responsible for the head-to-toe styling of their models. They can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to hit if they are going to meet the challenges set before them. If they want to stay in the game, if they want a chance to win the prize, they have to, as their mentor, Tim Gunn, would say,
“Make it work.”
They’re in a crunch. They don’t have time to second guess, and while thoughts about whether or not the judges will like what they create do plague them, they have no time to stew on those concerns. They have to get it done. Some people seem to believe that one can’t create when under pressure, and this rings true for many people. But if you want it, I mean really want it, you’ll reach down deep inside of yourself and pull out your own inspiration. For some people, they do their best work while under pressure. That’s a great trait to possess, because life is, more often than not, full of pressure. And if you don’t possess that trait, craft it within yourself. Set your own deadlines and stick to them. Be accountable with your craft and to your audience. Treat writing as a career and watch it become one.
2. Your point of view (voice) matters.
Trends matter, what people like matters, what critics think matters, but nothing matters more than your point of view, your aesthetic, and your voice. A designer or writer who has something to say is someone who is very hard to silence and ignore. Time and time again, I've heard the illustrious Project Runway judges tell designers that they want to see more of them in their work. They are interested in seeing their point of view. Why? Because you are what breathes life into your work! Your stories would not and could not exist without you! Anyone can write a story, but no one can do it precisely the way you do.
Your voice is what separates you from everyone else, and ultimately, it is what can contribute to your longevity. Being different is a vital key to being successful. Just think about the successful authors of our time: James Patterson, Stephanie Meyer, Terry McMillan—they all have a strong point of view and a unique voice. These authors are successful for setting trends, not following them. Wouldn’t you just love to experience that?
3. Forget about your comfort zone.
On Project Runway, the designers are sometimes expected to construct garments using such items as candy, plants, paper, and so on and so forth. The unconventional challenges are always my favorite. I mean, talk about having to step outside of your comfort zone! But here’s the thing, not only are they expected to create garments from these materials, they are expected to create wearable garments. These challenges separate the men and women from the boys and girls. And in writing, if you are only willing to keep your work in a small little constricted space with no room for growth, all you can expect is for it to suffocate and die.
Try new things, learn about new subjects, think about things from a different point of view, and incorporate it all into your writing. My bestselling book to date (Been So Long) is about a love triangle between a Pakistani man, and an African American man and woman. The main character is not really that likable and she makes some horrible decisions, but I like her and I like the story, and so do quite a few readers. Don’t be afraid to challenge the norms, even if they are your norms.
4. You can’t predict what people will like. So don’t even try.
I can’t tell you how many times I've watched a designer confidently present their work to the judges, only to have it torn apart verbally. It’s a hard thing to watch, and it’s especially hard when you, as a viewer, actually liked what the designer created. Opinions are subjective. What you absolutely love and are 100% confident will sell tons of copies, might be panned by a majority of the reading public. There’s just no way to tell. What I do find is that the designers who create something from their soul, and are willing to stand by it no matter what, can face failure with their heads held high, because they stayed true to themselves. Even if they are sent home, they often state that it would've been worse to be sent home over something that they didn't love. So, if you love what you've created you've already won. Write the story you want to read. Trying to predict what others will want to read is not only impossible, but it’s a waste of time and energy—time and energy that could be better spent writing.
5. One day you’re in and the next day, you’re out. Auf Wiedersehen!
The title to number six is comprised of two of Project Runway host, Heidi Klum’s, signature phrases, and let me tell you, this super model knows what she’s talking about. The world of entertainment is fickle, people. Very fickle, and make no mistake, authors are entertainers. One day, everybody and their mama might be rushing out to buy your book. The next day, you might be forgotten, replaced by the next big thing. Also, let’s not forget that our time here on this planet is limited. My advice? Enjoy the ride while the wheels are still turning and the motor is still running. Nurture your craft, and write while the writing is good. But most of all, smile and have fun!
Thanks for dropping by! Until later... be blessed :)