Applying Writing Advice to Modeling

Every writing instructor that I’ve worked with has told me the same two pieces of writing advice.  I’ve heard it from local college professors, keynote speakers at writers’ conferences, and even New York Times best-selling authors like David Farland and Orson Scott Card.

These two pieces of advice have helped me with more than just writing.  It’s also directly influenced my approach to modeling.  You wouldn’t expect writers and art nude models to have much in common—our disciplines don’t seem to share more than a strong dislike of pants.  But to be honest, I haven’t found a field yet where these two things don’t apply.

1.  Ass in Chair.

The premise behind “ass in chair” is that to get something done, you actually have to sit down and do it.  You’ll hear it told constantly to aspiring writers: the only way to be a writer is to put your ass in that chair and write!

It’s easy to talk about what you want to do with other people.  It’s easy to make endless to-do lists and schedules and plans.  And it’s particularly easy to focus on all that you have to learn, instead of going out there and actually doing it. 

For writers, this often manifests as obsessing over how to write. “How do I write good dialogue or descriptions?” they ask.  “How do I properly pace a novel?” 

Aspiring writers don’t know the answers to these questions.  But instead of figuring it out by trial and error, they research. They read endless articles on how to write well.  They attend writing workshops and classes.  And they never actually get around to writing anything.

Models have it a little easier: our art is collaborative.  A writer can sequester themselves in researching their craft and think that they’re actually getting work done.  As a model, we know we’re not actually making art unless we’re in front of someone’s easel or lens. 

But that doesn’t mean “ass in chair” isn’t useful to models too.  Models are not immune to the same type of procrastination.  As much as I thought we were when I first started modeling, it just usually applies to a different part of the process. 

For me (and for other models I’ve spoken with), it’s very easy to slack on the business end of things—emails, bookings, marketing.  Oftentimes, it feels okay to let these slide because we’re not directly paid for the hours we spend on them.  It’s sometimes hard to remember that our “real” work of posing is entirely dependent on the background legwork.  The only way to get more work as a model is to put your butt in a chair and start sending out messages.

2.  Get out of the Chair.

Specifically, exercise regularly.  This may seem counter-intuitive (especially if you’re met many writer-types.  They’re rarely the paragon of health).  But every writer I’ve talked to recommends exercising, even if they admit to not doing it often enough.

As a model, exercise is part of the business.  We need to stay fit to photograph well.  We also need to be strong enough to create and hold interesting poses in the first place. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I skip working out more often than I really should—especially when I’m on tour or traveling.  In a good week, I should be in the gym three times, plus ballet and stretch.  It’s rarely a good week. 

But I really should listen to my writer’s advice more often, and not just because I model better when I’m exercising.  I think better.  It gives me more mental energy to deal with all the aspects of running my business when my butt is actually in the chair.

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Until I had studied both, I would have never expected what I knew about writing would be useful for modeling.

I am constantly inspired by how much we can learn from other fields and disciplines.  Until I had studied both, I would have never expected what I knew about writing would be useful for modeling successfully.  But the basic concepts are directly applicable.  Both making sure that you sit down and do the necessary work, and practicing physical self-care are essential to succeeding in either discipline—or most any skillset, for that matter. 

The trick is being able to dissect advice from other fields and apply it to our own.  There are endless amounts of advice from experts if we look outside our own small sphere.  If writers and models have this much in common on a fundamental level, imagine how much else we can learn from each other, and from other disciplines.