Yesterday, I was watching reruns of Project Runway from a few years back. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, PR is a reality show for fashion designers. Each week, the designers create a look based on some kind of challenge (unusual materials, artwork inspired, to match an accessory, etc.)

Writers can learn a lot from Project Runway. The products created by these designers can often be ripped to shreds by the judges, and unlike writers who get their rejections privately in emails or letters, the designers stand there and take it while a worldwide audience looks on. The show is a study of grace under pressure, a recommendation to think outside the box, and filled with fun moments (and fashion!)

Now, in the particular season I was watching yesterday, designers’ models also faced the chopping block. After the winning and losing designers were chosen, post-runway, the model who worked with the losing designer was offered to the winner. If the winner chose to stay with his/her own model, the losing designer’s model was sent home. Fast forward to that moment. The winning designer, Daniel Vosovic, faced his model and the losing designer’s model, a lady named Danielle. Danielle was in tears because she knew she was on her way out.

And then came the words of wisdom from Daniel to the crying Danielle (forgive me for paraphrasing): I’m not sending you home; I’m giving you permission to fly off for something better.

How profound is that? I know it made Danielle smile. But more importantly, it struck me as something of a mantra for writers. When we receive rejections, when the story just won’t gel, when our characters refuse to follow the script…give yourself permission to fly off for something better.

You never know what’s beyond the horizon.

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