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