"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Friday, January 28, 2011

4 Things Every Writer Can Learn From American Idol!

It's season 10, and I'm in!
For those of you unfamiliar, American Idol is a singing competition whereby 3 judges and American viewers "audition" and choose who's hot and who's not based upon vocal ability and their "wow" factor. And it's hugely entertaining.

For those of you who ARE familiar and think it's a huge waste of time, keep reading this post for this program's relevance to writing.

As I was saying, each season I vow to stop watching because sometimes there's pettiness, politics, etc.

But then I see the previews, and I'm drawn to it like a good bargain sale!

Though this program is primarily a singing competition, there are other benefits to viewers, particularly those that are writers.

Here are a few pointers I've picked up recently.

1. Talent alone will only take you so far. If you want to outshine the competition, you have to display your creative strengths and play to them. When performers present material that does not showcase their talents well, or display their originality, they sometimes lose their fan base and risk being eliminated from the competition. The same holds true for writers.

2. Heed the advice of industry experts.
How creative artists handle rejection will determine how far they'll travel in their careers. Those that don't listen or fail to implement the suggestions offered up by the "judges" do themselves a great disservice, and stunt their potential growth. Time and time again, I've seen writers who refuse to take constructive criticism from editors, publishers, or seasoned professionals to improve their writing skills, and as a result, never quite make it to the "finals". Don't be one of them.

3. Confidence should never come before competence. It doesn't even in the dictionary! Never let your ego get in the way of your excellence. Learn to be objective. Nurture your talent. Hone your craft. And always strive to let your "star" shine!

4. You must stand out from the competition in a good way to get noticed and to advance in the game. For singers it can be their costumes or performance style. For writers it might be the clever use of metaphors, or strong imagery with words, or quick wit. Decide then deliver.

It's your turn @ the "mic". Do you agree or disagree? What lessons if any have you learned from this popular show?

Image: Photographer Dan


  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Another thought provoking and helpful post. :)

    I totally agree with you.

    I've learned that you can't judge the book by its cover. A young man came in looked like he couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but when he opened his mouth to sing, he was amazing. I was blown away. :)

    Lesson learned, don't write someone off because, they might just teach you a thing or two.

    Take care,


  2. Evelyn,

    You've said a mouthful. :-) My mom always taught me that you can learn something from anybody--if you are receptive. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this.

  3. I agree! My favorite is #3. Continually sharpening our skills is a must; there's always something to learn. Good post. :)
    Have a great weekend,

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 28, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Thanks, Karen! Growth is typically a good thing no matter what our level. :-)

  5. Every season I swear I'm not going to watch AI but I keep getting sucked back into it. You're right, there's a lot to be learned from this silly T.V show. 1.Know your audience, 2. Put yourself out there-try, 3.Do whatever you can to get your foot in the door. For example, the one contestant brought old HS pics of Randy and brought her grandfather in who was his old coach-great idea to get noticed! Hmmm, what can I do to get noticed for my writing? You got me thinking, thanks!

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 28, 2011 at 11:26 AM


    Excellent lessons you shared! Move to the head of the class! That was a smooth move on her part, wasn't it? Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jennifer, I am probably in the minority, but I did like Simon. He was honest and did not mind telling what he felt was the truth. He did not believe in sugar coating. I did not always agree with how he said things, but he gave some straight comments. If the audience noticed, the contestants really wanted to hear what he had to say. I think they felt that his comments were more true than the others.As a writer, I must be true to myself and not write what I think others want to hear. If it's not me, don't write it.

  8. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 28, 2011 at 7:29 PM


    I have to tell you girl, you are not alone. I was a super Simon fan! I agree with you totally. But I must say that Steven Tyler is cuter and more colorful. :-)

    I'm with you; I speak from my own truths or I don't write it at all.

    I think that his "brutal honesty" was a good thing, and though he could have been a little kinder in his word choices, he was his own man. And I respect that. I'm the same way. :-)

    Good to get your feedback. :-)

  9. Jennifer, right on. I have friends - talented friends - who tried out for American Idol and didn't get past the auditions to get TO the auditions INSIDE the convention center with the 3 famous judges. Talent is okay, but okay doesn't make superstar status, OUTSTANDING does.

    For every writer that complains that they aren't getting noticed, I would say that they aren't writing enough. Write enough with the goal of forming the most outstanding content you can and work like heck to network with people in your circle of influence, and you will GET noticed. My humble opinion anyway. :) Thanks for the post!

  10. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 29, 2011 at 1:04 AM


    Good points. Thanks for sharing them!