Writing Lessons from Project Runway

Right now I am binging on old episodes of Project Runway, and I can’t help but apply some of the lessons toward my writing. Without further ado, here are my biggest takeaways.

1. Listen to feedback.

Whenever Timm Gunn gives a designer advice, he is usually right. If a designer listens, she is probably safe for another day. If the designer ignores him, she is usually on a chopping block.

Your takeaway: When an editor or critique partner offers feedback, at least consider it before nixing it. She might see something you don’t see. At least sleep on it before you decide to disregard it.

2. Challenges can stretch your creativity.

The contestants can hate the really hard challenges (i.e. make a dress out of car parts or grocery store items), but, in the end, they sometimes create their best looks with weird materials. What they thought would kill them made them stronger designers.

Your takeaway: Stretch yourself as a writer. Try writing in a different genre. If you write prose, try writing in poetry. Write in a different POV or about a different character. It will help you grow as a writer.

3. Reviews can be subjective.

Sometimes Timm Gunn loves a dress while all the judges hate it. All the designers in the competition might be intimated by one design, but the judges aren’t fans. The judges can love something that the viewers shake their heads about. Sometimes a few judges adore a piece, and one of them absolutely hates it.

Your takeaway: Do you have an one-star review, but you have tons of five-star reviews? Forget about it! There are always haters, and so much of art is subjective.

4. Get inspiration outside of your industry. 

Timm Gunn is always taking the designers on fun field trips. They sleep on top of the Empire State Building or look at art at the Getty. They watch boxers fight and talk to people from different walks of life.

Your takeaway: Put down that writing book and look elsewhere for inspiration. Take a class in a subject you never studied. Visit a new place. Go somewhere you haven’t been before. Interview someone different from yourself.

5. Edit, edit, edit. 

Tim Gunn is always telling people to edit their dresses. He encourages them to remove the extra elements or accessories of a dress. It always makes the garment better.

Your takeaway: When in doubt, cut it out. Don’t be afraid to nix that extra adjective or unnecessary plot point.

Do you need your own personal Tim Gunn? Check out my coaching services to make it work!

Leave a Reply