3 S.R. Johannes: Rejection Lessons from "American Idol"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Rejection Lessons from "American Idol"

Update: all prizes have been shipped. next week, I look forward to getting back into reading your blogs. This has been a crazy few weeks!

Top 10 things we can learn about Rejection from American Idol:

1. Not everyone likes the same thing. No agent or editor likes the same thing. We as writers or readers don't like the same thing. It's not personal.

2. Criticism can make you better, if you're open to it. Take any suggestion for improvement and see if it can work. It make help you take a step forward.

3. Everyone needs to improve on something. No one is perfect. Some of us are good at voice, others at plot. It's about growing.

4. Believe in your talent. If you don't believe in yourself, how can your agent or editor? Trust in your ability and do your best to make it work. Sometimes it is out of your control.

5. Talent isn't the only factor. The best singer doesn't always win. The best writers don't always get the book deals. There are so many other factors that go into moving through this journey successfully: the market, the agent, the editor, the need, persistance, patience, timing.

6. Sometimes, it boils down to an X factor. Some just seem to have it. Others have to fight for it. But there has to be some connection between your book and an 'editor/agent that you can't force. It just is or isn't.

7. Know your strengths. Don't be something you are not. Know what you're good at and stick to it until you establish a place for yourself. Your genre, voice, and story.

8. Don't make excuses for your weaknesses. Just do something about it and work to get better.

9. Expect a Simon in every crowd. There will always be a critic that doesn't like your work. Apply the parts that make sense and leave the rest behind.

10. Have faith that this is your time. Its the only thing you can really control in this process.



41 comments:

C. K. Bryant said...

These are great and SO true. Thanks for sharing them. I especially like #9. I've found several Simon's when it comes to my writing, but they usually help the most.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm so posting this by my computer. Thanks, Shelli! It's just what I needed.

Cheree said...

I totally agree. And, speaking from someone who's a failure from Aussie Idol, you definitely have to take rejection like a grain of salt and decide which comments to take seriously (but not personally).

Keliah said...

This is some of the best advice I've read in a long time! Thanks Shelli! :)

Kristi Faith said...

So true! Love it!

Danyelle said...

You are made of awesome! This is a great list. Thank you. :)

Paul Greci said...

Most excellent list, Shelli! Thanks for making it so clear. It's easy to get lost in our own heads and forget that all we can do is keep writing, keep improving and remember what we do and don't have control over. A great reminder.

Kelly H-Y said...

What a great comparison!

Christina Farley said...

I need to print this list out and read it every day!

Andrea said...

All of these are so true, but I especially liked #4. I think when you believe in yourself, that confidence shines through in your work.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great list and so very true! It's nice to watch some of the kids on that show listen and improve and really grow. Hopefully the same goes for us!

Nisa said...

Loved this post! Every one of those things is true and it was a great reminder. (It also reminded me that I've been missing out this season. Ah well...)

Nisa said...

Loved this post! Every one of those things is true and it was a great reminder. (It also reminded me that I've been missing out this season. Ah well...)

Janet Johnson said...

Love the comparison. Great reminders. And I should be watching more Idol . . . ;)

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Ugh, I MISS American Idol. *grumbles about husbands remote control control*

Great list :-)

Kelly said...

You make very fun comparisons! Love it! It wasn't pitchy at all, dawg.

Yat-Yee said...

I especially like #7: know thyself.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

So true! Great post Shelli.

Oh boy a Simon in every crowd! We are in trouble now lol!

Kristi said...

I love these Shelli - thanks!

Robert W. Leonard said...

I can't stand the show, but the concepts are true enough. What I don't like is the public execution of it all, but I guess they all ask to be on there... I'm re-working my opening after my first couple rejections right now, so your post is dead on for me. I liked the suggestions they offered a lot. Then I can see if the changes appeal to the next few agents. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Okay, it's official. You now have a stalker-girl fan. Yeah, it's me. This is the best list ever! My DH and I watched last night and I liked one guy and he didn't. We were hearing the same thing. The panel was mixed. It's so subjective.

And writing is the exact same way.

Awesome post!

Sliding on the Edge said...

It's always good to be reminded of these things--even when we KNOW them in our hearts, our heads tend to forget. Thanks. I'm putting these where I can quickly refer to them.

Shari said...

I absolutely LOVE this list. It's so true!!! I want to copy this and post it on my blog. Please tell me that I have your permission?!!

I especially like the last one. I need to have more faith in myself. I'm a little lacking in that area at the moment. Thanks for giving me permission to have faith in myself.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love this! I really, really love this! Thanks, Shelli! :-)

lotusgirl said...

That list is fantastic and completely spot on. Great reminders.

Donna Gambale said...

Great list, and I'd also add:
Sometimes you'll get contradictory advice.

OR

If you think the judges are always right:
Sometimes advice that sounds contradictory, isn't.

But seriously, watching AI, either the person changes the song too much or not at all. But in previous seasons "drastic" changes have been met with standing ovations.

And this is why I love/hate AI.

Gail said...

You are the best at these lists!!!!

Deb Salisbury said...

Love this post. I need to think hard about #7.

Kim Kasch said...

Love the, "If you don't believe in yourself, how can your agent or editor?"

Thanks Shelli

MotherReader said...

Love this! It's so true for writing and other artistic endeavors. I watch the show with my daughter - a young, aspiring singer - and we've been processing some of these same lessons for her to store up. We also talk about developing a bit of a thick skin to take the criticism in, but not be hurt so much inside - which I think is a particular challenge for all of us artistic types.

Oh, and Donna, I totally agree with you about the drastic changes to songs being good or bad, depending on how it turns out to the judges ears. The contradictory advice is beginning to get to me this season, and I think it's because there is more of it. I feel like the judges are talking to the singers much more than they did in past seasons, and I suspect that they are half making stuff up to have enough to say when before they would have just said "Not feeling it, dog."

Sarah Aiglen said...

Great post, Shelli, and great advice for life as well as for writing!

Jessie Oliveros said...

I watched my VERY FIRST (this season) AI episode last night, and I have to say I liked all the contestants the judges did not. Subjective? Yes!

Corey Schwartz said...

Nothing beats a good American Idol post!

Funny, I was thinking of writing one today, too. On
contradictory advice." Simon even called HIMSELF on it.

If the contestant is original, they say "Oh, don't change it up so much. It's a great song. Just sing it." And if they just sing it, they say "That was so copycat. You didn't make it your own."

Carolyn V. said...

Excellent post! It's so true!!! So people like one thing - others another. And hard work and persistance will pay off. =)

elizabeth mueller said...

Love this. So motivating and inspiring and true! :)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

wow Im so glad you liked my slacker post guys :) i had a hard time coming u with a topic. see reality tv has its benefits! :)

Pam Calvert said...

What a great post! I put it in my favorite rejection articles on my website here: http://www.pamcalvert.com/pam_s_splatlinks

Pam :-)

Natalie said...

This was awesome Shelli. SO TRUE.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I love this list! I don't feel as though I'm the most talented writer in my writing group and I'm amazed that I'm published. I really think luck is having the right book at the right place at the right time. I liked what you said about how to take criticism. I've learned through this publishing journey to appreciate critics. They help create a stronger book. Though what they say may bite at times. Thanks for the wonderful post!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I love American Idol and your points are perfect. As for Simon, sometimes he can be harsh, but I usually agree with what he's saying :)

Beth Mithen said...

I am posting this above my computer! Thank you!