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"Required reading" for today's smart writer. As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Daily Blog Tips, Write to Done, Technorati, WOW! and other popular sites.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

American Idol Rewind-Another Season Brings More Lessons for Writers

If you've been following my blog for more than a minute, no doubt you've discovered that I'm a huge fan of Fox 32's singing show, American Idol.
And if you're a fan of the show, you'll understand why this season has me as excited as a kid at Christmas.

The talent this year has been off the chain. Truly!
So, what does all this have to do with the craft of writing?
I'll tell you.
Though many may not make the correlation, writers are "entertainers" too.
The medium may be different, but every time we pen a post and hit the "publish" button, we are on a "virtual stage".

Every time we create an Ebook for folks to download and purchase, we are sharing our talents and gifts with an audience.
And just like the contestants on this popular show, we have the ability to move folks to tears, make them want to cheer us on to victory, and connect on many levels.

With this being said, here are a few lessons this season leaves us with.

1. Keep plugging away at your dream.
Overnight successes are rare. And certainly not as satisfying as those where sacrifice and a lot of hard work factored into the equation.
I remember one night when I was viewing the show, they did a rewind to a previous season and I was intrigued by what I learned. It turns out that Joshua Ledet, (one of the top 3 contestants), had actually been turned away on a former season of the show. What?!! Instead of being bitter or defeated, he came back. And this time, with a little more maturity, development, and resolve, he made it into the finals.
Failure is not permanent. Nor is it an indictment against our character or ability.
When an editor criticizes our work, or a reader rips us apart with harsh words, we must remember to take it in stride. Regroup. And get back on that horse.

2. Consistency is crucial.
Contestants who manage to wow fans one week, but fall off the next,
(or rest on their laurels), run the risk of losing "the prize" before they make it to the finish line. A similar fate happens with today's bloggers. If you post every blue moon, or don't make an effort to provide quality content on a consistent basis, you're likely to lose your fan base to someone else who brings their "A" game on the regular.

3. Talent alone is only half the battle.
Natural ability without hard work and people skills, can stunt your development as an artist. Don't believe me? The proof is in the pudding. Certainly you have witnessed with quite a few of these talent shows, that those who are more popular sometimes advance over those who are more talented. Assignments don't always go to the writer with the most qualifications. Read this and heed this.

4. Competition doesn't have to be cut throat.
Though every one certainly wants to be the singer that advances to the next round and beat out the competition, there's such a sense of camaraderie with the contestants on this show. Last week, Joshua was moved to tears when his friend Holly was eliminated from the competition. Which moved me to tears.
Don't be fooled. Though I have found some of the most lovely friends and supporters within the blogging and writing community, we are in a sense "competitors".
That doesn't mean we can't be kind, helpful, supportive and encouraging in our interaction. Karma prevails regardless as to your profession. And I believe that you get what you give, many times.

5. Put your own spin on things.
Truth be told, I've always been a fan of James Brown. And his song, "This is a man's world" is among my favorites. But when Joshua Ledet did his version, it became brand new! His rendition was remarkable. His interpretation was awesome. It was fresh, sensitive and sassy. It had "swagger". Hello! As writers, we can take old topics and give them new meaning. We can impose our unique perspective and put our own personal stamp on things. We can challenge traditional ways of thinking. The sky's the limit. Dare to be different.


Well, that's the conclusion of this "performance".

Your turn. Are you an Idol fan? Any lessons here resonate with you?

Image: Stock photo

16 comments:

  1. Great points, Jennifer! I love how you related American Idol to being a successful blogger...
    Thank you!

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 14, 2012 at 3:44 AM

      Hi there Cheryl,

      So glad you liked it. Thanks so much for stopping by and for starting the discussion off.

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  2. Hola, Jen:

    You know I am a loyal fan of this show. This season has been the best Idol season because of the enormous talent demonstrated by several of the contestants. Your tie-ins between Idol and the craft of writing resonate with me. I think Joshua embodies all of them, and I hope, as a writer, to do what he is doing.

    As for plugging away at his dream, Joshua was turned away in a prior season, as you mention. This season, he came back hungrier and better prepared to compete, having honed his natural talent. As writers, rejection and harsh criticism are inevitable. It's up to us to want it enough to keep going and keep improving, if writing is our calling and we have some natural ability. Keeping things in perspective is key here.

    As for consistency, Joshua "brings it" every performance. From his stage presence, to his body movements, to his facial expressions, to his song selections, he leaves it all on the stage after every performance. Sometimes he moves himself to tears because of the emotion he pours into each song. And taking his jacket off slowly as he sang "When a Man Loves a Woman." What?! I can't tell you how many times I watched that performance over! :-) That consistency connects with viewers because it makes us feel like he works hard to entertain us each time. As writers, being mindful that our readers are "watching" us through our words pushes us to maintain consistency, as well.

    As for talent being only half the battle, Joshua is polite and playful. He makes me want to cheer for him as a person, not just a performer. And it never hurts to be liked, right? Not in a singing competition or in writing or in life in general.

    As for being cut-throat, Joshua doesn't act as if the other contestants are his competitors, although he clearly knows they are. In the writing world, I've been blessed to meet skilled, enthusiastic writing pals--like you. So I stick with the kind, "together" writers because, as in life, why wouldn't we want to surround ourselves with people who bring us joy and growth?

    Anyway, can you tell I like Joshua? Can you tell I enjoy this show? Thank you for the timely tie-ins!

    Enjoy your weekend.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 14, 2012 at 3:49 AM

      Janette,

      Girl, you are a hoot! :-) Are you sure we're not related somewhere, somehow? LOL I too have watched Joshua's performance so many times it's crazy! I bookmarked it for easy access. :-) I am also a member of team Joshua! Though all the finalists are really great.
      Thanks for your thoughts here.

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  3. I do not watch Idol, but I do think you make some important points, here no doubt! Thank you for that...nicely done.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 14, 2012 at 3:52 AM

      Modern Day Disciple,

      How nice to hear from you today. Thanks so much for adding to the mix. If you get a chance, do try to watch it at least once. Discover what all the "buzz" is about. :-) Be well.

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  4. Of course we are entertainers, no doubt! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 14, 2012 at 4:00 AM

      Lena,

      Welcome! Welcome! I greatly appreciate your time and feedback. I checked out your blog. Way cool! Good job.
      Don't be a stranger. :-)

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  5. I don't follow AI, but these are great points no matter what you like to watch! I particularly like #4. I've long thought (especially when teaching my kids in their formidable years) that there is a form of healthy competition, where you strive to do and be your best. This kind, I think, stretches us and helps us grow.

    Been thinking along these lines - things we can learn and take away - now that Celebrity Apprentice is nearing its finale.

    Happy Monday! :)

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  6. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 14, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    Hi Karen,

    Happy Monday back @ ya'! :-) Surprised to discover that you don't follow the show. As far as Celebrity Apprentice? Very interesting this season. I can't wait to see what emerges at the finale.
    Thanks for chiming in here. :-)

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  7. Jennifer, This is one of my favorite P&P posts so far (and I'll read you for a loooong time). I agree with every aspect you've outlined here. I do feel like an 'entertainer'. I've always felt a writer's duty is threefold - entertain, inform, enlighten. On with the show!

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  8. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 14, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Susan,
    ...And you are indeed entertaining, hon. :-)
    So glad it "struck a chord" with you! Thanks.

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  9. Hi Jennifer,

    I too am an American Idol fan. One thing I have noticed over the years with the show is that, oftentimes, many of the contestants who don't end up winning, still go on to have great careers, receive awards and have stunning album sales. So too with writing. Not all writers will win the Nobel Prize, or other such prestigious awards. However, there are other rewarding aspects, such as a thoughtful letter from someone who read your book, or some favorable, totally unsolicited book reviews.

    Thanks for showing the parallels between American Idol and writing. I also like your point about writers being supportive of other writers. Great post!

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  10. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Yasmin,

    Excellent feedback. Thanks for your valuable input. The rewards of putting forth one's best effort in creative projects pays back many times in many ways.

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  11. The funny thing is that I haven't always seen writing as something that could be Entertaining for an audience, I did see it more as a way to figure out what I am thinkig about.

    For what American Idol is concerned, years ago I worked in the Music Business myself, so looking at such somewhat simalar shows that we have here on tv in Europe (and sometimes American Idol on YouTube) is something that I still occasionally do. (I sometimes actually see people I have met in the jury :)) I also actually created a special Music Blog with the idea to write about Music on it, only haven't written posts on that blog. (However I did write a tiny little ('the Vision') ebook that's somewhat remotely based on my Experience in the Music Business.)

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    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMay 16, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      Hi HP,

      I'm glad to hear from you today. Interesting to learn about your background in music. Thanks for connecting here. :-)

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