Project Runway is one of my favorite TV shows, and on Thursday the Season 8 finale is on. I can’t wait! Will you be watching?
I’ve realized, after eight seasons of the show, that competing on Project Runway is a lot like writing and trying to get published.
Step 1: The Crazy Challenge
The designers learn they have to make a dress out of car parts or something equally insane.
You come up with an AMAZING new idea, but how are you going to pull it off?
Do you realize you have NEVER done anything like this before? You must have gone insane… but that shiny new idea won’t leave you alone!
Step 2: Preparation
After accepting the challenge, no matter how terrifying it is, the designers sit down to sketch a few ideas.
Next the designers have a tiny budget and a few minutes to make a mad dash through Mood to buy fabric.
Or they’re let loose like a pack of wild animals to grab as many things as they can find.
You jot down your ideas, make a couple character collages, or draw a map of your fantasy world. Maybe you even (gasp) outline.
Either way, you’re having fun and can’t wait to get writing! This idea is awesome! YOU ARE GOING TO BE A NY TIMES BESTSELLER!!!
Step 3: The Blank Mannequin
No matter how much sketching they do, each designer faces a blank mannequin and begins to panic.
Their idea seemed so easy and fun at the time, but now it doesn’t work. Reality sinks in: they have no clue how to make an entire dress out of party supplies.
You’ve taken your shiny idea and your outline and all your pictures of cute boys and now you’re staring at the blank page. You start writing and your first draft looks like a shapeless piece of cloth pinned to a mannequin. Don’t freak out! This is normal.
Step 4: Critiques
Just when the designers think things are going well, Tim Gunn comes in to check on them.
Tim says, “Tell me about this.”
“This concerns me.”
“Where is the surprise factor? You want the judges to gasp - for the right reason.”
“I don't know what else I can say, except finish it. Make it work!”
We all need someone, ideally as fabulous as Tim Gunn, to critique our work… and to give us hugs and encouragement when it isn’t working.
Step 5: Revisions
Thanks to Tim’s critique the designers know how to make their garment better (or have completely ignored him), and are changing it as needed. Maybe you recognize these symptoms of revision?
-Working your butt off with almost no sleep
-Whining to the camera/the internet about how hard it is
-Getting in fights with everyone around you
-Reworking your design/story at the last minute
-Crying to other designers/writers
-Having a total mental breakdown
Calm down! Focus! And quit being a drama queen, you’ll regret it later when they do the recap show/when someone Googles your name and finds your rant about agents.
Step 6: The Runway
The designers send their work down the runway to be judged. One of them will be the winner… and one of them will be OUT!
The judges rip everyone’s work to shreds. Here are some common problems:
-Cliché, seen it before, predictable
-Overdesigned, confusing, needs more editing
-Boring, not stylish, not enough of the designer’s voice
-Bad execution, construction issues, sloppy
-Too short, too old or too young, “taste issues”
You’ve sent your work out and gotten a few rejections. Does your book have any of the above problems? If so, get back to editing!
In Project Runway, the designers who make it to the end are the ones who rock the challenges, learn from their critiques, but stay true to their own style.
Listen to your gut and stick to your vision, but also be open to the feedback of others. If you work hard, someday you will get that call from an agent who wants to represent you.
With luck, persistence, and a lot of work, your book will get published!
Now get out there and write that bestseller. Make it work!
(P.S. If you like Project Runway, you MUST read Tom and Lorenzo’s site. They kindly let me use all these screencaps from their site because they are fabulous. Go follow them right now. Seriously. Look at this post. It is hilarious.)