Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Lessons Writers Can Learn from James Durbin

I recently wrote a post about lessons writers can learn from Casey Abrams. (The link is HERE.) I must admit, though, that James Durbin is my favorite American Idol contestant. Yes, this grandmother loves the hard-rock sound of James Durbin. ai10_perfs_top8_james_durbin_262x235

And these are some lessons he can teach us writers:

  • James has overcome severe limitations. In an Idol interview he said, “I have Tourette’s and Asperger’s, but Tourette’s and Asperger’s don’t have me. I’m doing what I can to suppress it. It’s not who I am.” As writers,we all have limitations. However, we can write even within those limitations. We may not be able to write the next great American novel, but we can choose to write the book within us.  
  • Another lesson for writers is the developing of  a brand. For example, he wears cloth tails. When asked about it, he said he does it to stand out; to be different. We need to look for something to set us apart; something people will remember us by. And that goes for our characters also. What makes them unique? What “brands” them?
  • One of the symptoms of Durbin’s Tourette’s is facial tics, yet Durbin doesn’t focus on the “thorn in his side,” and shun the promotion part of the process. He knows promotion is part of the process, as difficult as that must be for him. Probably the writing profession has more introverts than other professions. We have to put away that introverted part of us, take a deep breath, and promote ourselves—facial tics and all.
  • James also connects with his fans by reaching out to others with similar problems. One woman wrote: “James was kind enough to send my son a wonderful message on an autographed photo, and an autographed bandana. He is amazing.” Writers need to develop connections, but let’s do it in the right way. As Christians, it’s not all about us. We need to genuinely care about others and reach out a helping hand to them.
  • Durbin also knows his audience—hard rockers (and grandmoms)—and is not afraid to sing hard rock songs, although a hard rocker has never won American Idol. Many people change who they are to seek fame. James sticks to his guns. We too should know who we are and become the best we can be. In other words, not write for popularity but write because of what lies within us. Be true to ourselves.
  • Another thing that is obvious—James has worked hard to develop his God-given talent. We need to put in the time to polish our writing—to make it the best it can be.
  • Lastly, James adds his own unique sound to the songs he sings. We must not just be imitators but look for that uniqueness that lies within each of us, and, again, that takes time and hard work. Writers call it “voice.” It is something that can be developed. (Two of my posts on developing voice can be found HERE.)

Will James Durbin be the next American Idol? Someone with Tourette’s and Asperger’s. A hard rocker. Not your typical American Idol winner.

Yet, despite of, or perhaps because of, his limitations, he just might be the next American Idol.

And, despite of, or perhaps because of, our limitations, we just might become whom God wishes us to be.

 When updating to a new template, somehow I lost all my followers. Please re-follow! Thanks!



  1. Wow! Love your article. By the grace of GOD, I hope he wins .People. have mocked him and made fun of him, what is wrong with America. I love James Durbin. I hope the teenagers lose this time around and the right person wins . Vote like he** for James Durbin

  2. Although I am not an Idol viewer, I loved your comparisons. And, I have followed your blog on Networked Blogs, but do not see it counted....

  3. Thanks, Cecilia! I don't know why your follow is not showing up but thanks for trying!


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