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Blast From My Blogging Past: 25 Things Writers Can Learn By Watching American Idol

[Please note, this post is from March 2010, so it includes mentions of Simon and Ellen. I am reposting it in honor of tonight’s American Idol finalé. Go, Lauren!]

I know some writers prefer not to watch American Idol. Others may think that reality TV is mindless fluff for small minds. Some may find the show offensive and potentially harmful, especially to children.

And then there are those of us who watch it and find it to be a relaxing form of entertainment. At least I do. So I thought I’d share a few reflections on what I think writers can learn about success from watching American Idol.

Regardless of where you stand on the show, I think you’ll be surprised by how many ideas I got out of it that also apply to writers. And I’m just getting warmed up…

  1. Make the most of an incredible opportunity but don’t be a prima donna (viewers can spot one a mile away)
  2. Know yourself and be yourself – that’s why people watch – let your uniqueness shine through
  3. Figure out who your fans really are and dedicate yourself to them, they are going to be the ones who go the distance for you, tell others about you, and cheer you forward
  4. Take in and learn from the critiques, they come with the territory
  5. Push yourself to keep growing, nothing else inspires others more
  6. Fill the stage – be a star not a mouse
  7. Look into the camera, connect with  people (but don’t get all schmaltzy while doing it)
  8. Respond to criticism thoughtfully, action speaks louder than words
  9. Don’t just sing, feel the music, pull us in, take us with you
  10. Remember: this is a competition, don’t dink around: WIN
  11. Don’t let somebody else’s idea of who you are mess you completely up (see number 2)
  12. Give each performance everything you’ve got & leave everything on the stage, all of it
  13. Try not to be self-conscious, it’s just not compelling
  14. Watch the show back and see for yourself how well you did, learn from your mistakes
  15. Care about your friends but don’t caretake them (see number 10)
  16. Craft a compelling story about yourself but don’t get carried away, if you try to manipulate the audience they will abandon you
  17. Be gracious, friendly, and if at all possible, funny
  18. Never whine or make excuses, millions of people are watching
  19. Own your choices, all of them
  20. Speaking of, it’s never too late to make a comeback, even if you get voted off
  21. When necessary, calmly speak up for yourself, especially to Simon
  22. Be respectful of the judges because they know stuff, even Ellen
  23. Be respectful of the public because they are telling you how you are coming across
  24. Accept that being simultaneously loved and not liked at all means you are pretty darn successful
  25. Enjoy the ride!

What else? Did I miss any?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michele Thornton May 25, 2011, 3:05 am

    I love it! Some of these apply to writing, although thankfully (for me) writing is not a performance art. Genuineness shines in anything we do, especially in writing. As for filling a stage, I will never have that presence but my daughter does. It’s a wild and exciting thing to see happen, and reminds me we all have our own spaces to fill.

  • Jeanette LeBlanc May 25, 2011, 5:19 pm

    I love this article.  You have beautifully applied creative feedback for singing contestants into advice for writers. Lessons for life via American Idol, sprinkled with that Christina wisdom and flair. Have you thought of  sending  it to the  producers of American Idol (with an update of the judges)? 

    What else?  If you are voted off American Idol, recover, rebound and jump back in. Never give up!