Sunday, May 15, 2011

What American Idol Taught Me About Writing

So. American Idol. It is a TV show with:

One host

Three judges

And as of today, three contestants.

Last week, however, there were four contestants. One of them was...

James Durbin

Resident metal fan. Or, as I like to call him, Captain Awesomesauce.


Last week, after singing "Love Potion No. 9" and "Don't Stop Believin'", Captain Awesomesauce received the following feedback:

"Beautiful!"--Steven Tyler

"That was... uh-MAY-zing..."--Jennifer Lopez

"Dog, that was HOT! James is IN IT TO WIN IT!!!!"--Randy Jackson

The next night, James got eliminated. 

Which leads me to the writing tip of the century

Never. Get. Comfortable.

Finished your sixth draft? 

You can do better.

Struck by a brilliant Shiny New Idea? 

You can do better.

Did you brainstorm ways to add more characterization/conflict/depth/whatever else? 

You can do better.

Feel like giving up after that last query? 

You. Can do. Better

James got excellent feedback throughout the competition. He was rumored to be the future American Idol. But he wasn't. Sure, he always topped himself, did much better than the previous week, and he still didn't win. 

Is that stopping him from pursuing his dream?

Heck to the no.

And neither should you :)

Oh, and in case you're wondering how I felt after James's elimination, le demonstration:

Now tell me, blogging buddies: are there times you feel like giving up? How do you convince yourself that you can do better?


  1. I thought you were going in a completely differant direction with this, lol. But now I see that I thought pretty much the same thing, you can get awesome feedback, but still get the big R from those editors and agents. Then of course there is the Adam Lambert approach, you may not win the competition, but in the end you come out victorious.

  2. LOVE this post - I just about tossed my tv out the window and vowed never to watch AI again when I saw him get eliminated. I mean SERIOUSLY!!!???

    But yeah, I see your excellent point. And yep, he didn't get the this prize...but he will for sure be successful somewhere else, I have no doubt of that. I, for one, will be more than happy to fork over my money when his first CD comes out :D

  3. Aw, I hate it when my favorite gets voted off. We watch all our TV online so I haven't seen this show in forever, but I do remember Taylor and Reuben, and which one sold more albums after the show was over. Winning so isn't everything. :)

    That's a good point about not getting too comfortable, even when you feel like you're doing great, getting a lot of requests from agents, etc. I know now I should always be working on my books, editing or writing something new, because if I stop and all those requests turn up dry wells, it's way more disheartening if I've got nothing new and no direction.

  4. I wanted James to win!!!!!! I loved the metal that he brought to the show.
    And you are so right. Never get too comfortable. Keep improving, keep going.

  5. AI didn't teach you to be extra smirky and to flash your eyebrows while titling your head behind the microphone? Darn. I totally feel like giving up, especially when it is silent with query responses.

  6. What makes me feel like giving up? Silent inbox, rejection swarms, contradictory critiques, editing to death, and on and on.

    Will I ever give up? Heck no! :D

  7. Oh yes. There are times I feel like giving up. :P Which is why I'm in the middle of a hiatus from revising my main project - revising another one in the meantime.


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