Saturday, July 2, 2011

What can Lady Gaga teach us about writing?

It's a stretch, I know, but stick with me. Although I've heard Gaga does write some of her own music, for the sake of this post we'll stick with what she can teach us about book writing. Strap on your shiny black leather seatbelt--here goes:
  1. Talent matters. Say what you will about her, but Lady Gaga sings great whether it's live or recorded. For writers these days, there seems to be more publishing opportunities than ever. But quality writing matters. Word of mouth matters. And talent matters.
  2. People want to be entertained. I've never been to a Gaga concert, but I know it wouldn't be boring. When readers open a book, they want to be transported to another time and place. Gaining readers and keeping them entertained should be a top priority.
  3. Outrageous actions gain attention. The dress made of steaks, wobbly skyscraper heels, and scanty outfits ensure Gaga is noticed. Plenty of writers have written "out there" books. Perhaps the authors were ridiculed, but their stories gained attention.
  4. Outrageous actions can work against us. Gaga does grab attention, but too often it's the negative kind. If writers want to be taken seriously we must ditch the glittery queries, stalker behavior at conferences, and questionable online behavior. We're a walking, talking, writing business.
  5. Stay current. Like Madonna has over the past 20 years, I wonder if Gaga will evolve with time. We writers are in a business where news and trends change faster than we can tweet a blog post. Thankfully we all work together to stay current.
Care to add something to the list? Are you a fan of Lady Gaga, and if so, what's your favorite song?

33 comments:

  1. Awesome post! I especially like the last point about staying current, which is so important.

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  2. Leave it to you to do an excellent job comparing writing to Lady Gaga! Seriously impressed.

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  3. As long as I don't have to wear a dress made of meat, it's all good.

    Really like #2. So many books have such angst, despair, and darkness. Everything can't be rosy, but it should transport.

    "Let's Dance" is a favorite. *dances away*

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  4. Great points! I'm not sure I'd call myself a fan but I do enjoy some of her music. But your right, there is definitely a lot we can learn from her.

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  5. Yeap, the last one's 100% right. My favorite singers have actually changed with the times, most for the best with the exception of Mariah Carey, sadly.

    Anyway, what I've learned from Gaga is that the shock value gets attention, like you said often negative, but I suppose a person decides what kind of attention they want and go from there. If you want fame, be ready for both extremes. Some people are just strong enough to take it.

    I've only watched her performance on Idol stage where she plays the piano while standing up on her chair, her ass high up in the air, lol, all the while singing. Yes, she is good at what she does.

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  6. Think I'll avoid the outrageous - it can backfire. And sorry, definitely not a fan. (Not my type of music.)

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  7. I love this post! "Bad Romance" never gets old, and I love Scheise off her new album. I don't listen to many pop artists, but there's something about Gaga that grabs me and makes me listen to her over and over again. Little monster, I am indeed.

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  8. Great points as always, Julie. Working business and art hand in hand is a definite and necessary skill. I became a Gaga fan when I saw her on GOOD MORNING AMERICA's summer concert series. Under all her wildness there is a very centered artist. I am in awe of the courageous way she expresses her creativity. "Born This Way," is my favorite song.

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  9. Having talent and being entertaining are definitely important for musicians and writers. All the publicity in the world (pos. or neg.) won't help if you aren't those two things. I actually don't listen to a lot of music, but I have found hers entertaining when I catch them.
    erica

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  10. Interesting thoughts. I'll add one more. Lady Gaga didn't become a megastar over night. She is a trained musician who spent many years perfecting her craft. She earned her spot in stardom. Writing also takes years of hard work to reach our goals. Famous authors got there by working their butts off to get there.

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  11. Lady Gaga is out there but she plays good music - "Born This Way" is a great song with positive lyrics - something for everyone. She's strange, but a nice girl, I think. I heard her defend Rebecca Black, the 13 year old getting a lot of flack for her song/video "Friday." She's also a classically trained pianist - a very talented young woman.

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  12. Cool post! I really like Lady Gaga's new album, and I like that she's not afraid to be different. She's the artist she wants to be, not who others think she should be. Writers can learn from that too. Write what you want to write and not just what's currently trendy in publishing!

    I'm not sure how much she'll evolve; her new album isn't too much different from her others (though it's still really good!). Christina Aguilera is an artist who's had vastly different music and looks with each new album! Love that.

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  13. Love it! :) I don't know much about her music - but I think her costumes are bizarre & very smart. She's probably one of the few mega celebrities who can go out in public and no one will recognize her!!! :)

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  14. Impressive correlations. I love her music but I think she could tone the rest of it down and still be noticed.

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  15. Excellent points! She's got a business plan along with talent--sort of the equivalent of would-be authors needing to write well, but also write smart (i.e., a novel idea has to be marketable).

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  16. Julie -
    I must admit that you almost lost me at "hello" with the Lady Gaga gambit. But this was a well written post with plenty of good sensible suggestions. Thank you - Marsha

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  17. I like all her songs...

    Anyone successful I think I can learn from.

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  18. You know, I think one thing she does well is make her fans feel special. They feel like they're part of something when they adore her. She calls herself the "Fame Monster" and refers to her fans as "her little monsters" in an oddly affectionate way.

    It's like being a Potterite, or a Ringer.

    Everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants an "in."

    Valuing the people who are putting your food on the table and not letting you fall while crowd-surfing? That is a good thing, and I think it makes for really solid celebrities.

    In the meantime, I like "Alejandro," but it may have one of the worst music-videos of all time. Eek! I can't quite stomach some of her performances. My dad and brother actually walked out of one of her concerts once, after just a few songs.

    Still, the woman knows what she's doing when it comes to building a great fanbase and career.

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  19. And yeah. My Dad went to a lady Gaga concert.

    He's kind of awesome.

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  20. Oh, I love it. I think #1 is dead right. I'm not a huge fan, but even I know her music, and have been known to groove along to a song or two. Talent will get you a long way!

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  21. Lady Gaga's outrageous antics irritate me, because she DOES have talent. I sincerely think she could have made it without the gimmick, and as you said, will she evolve? The crazy stuff will only take her so far.

    But your breakdown and comparison to writing was really interesting and definitely something to learn from.

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  22. Great post, Julie. Very impressed. Lady Gaga's outrageous behaviour bugs the hell out of me, but she has her fan following.I am not a fan of Lady Gaga's.

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  23. Julie, I'm not a fan of Lady Gaga, but I do have to say I enjoyed your post. What an interesting comparison.

    Happy 4th of July!

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  24. I agree! I admit I'm not a fan of Lady Gaga, but I have to admit her outrageous behavior and interesting outfits are very much attention-grabbing. :)

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  25. Madonna is a genius when it comes to staying current, for sure.

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  26. Hey Julie! Great post! As far as Lady Gaga goes, I don't consider myself a fan (screaming at her feet at a concert) but I have always been the type to 1)Give credit where credit is due, and 2)Appreciate true talent. She fits in both categories. As far as the correlation to writing? I think you are spot on. And I don't mind the weird costumes and extravagant entrances and all of that. She entertains and I watch because it's creative. Sometimes it's weird, but still...if you appreciate creativity, you have to give Lady Gaga props.

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  27. I am a Lady Gaga fan, both of her music and her view on what it means to be an artist. She is is always "on." Writers need to be the same way. You always have to be in "writer mode" since you never know who is reading your blog, tweets, etc.

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  28. You nailed it Julie--well done! :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  29. I love her song Just Dance.

    You make excellent points. Thinking about it, I've encountered Lady Gaga-esque writing.

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  30. Love this post! I've been impressed by how Gaga manages to take risks and constantly keep her fans entertained with fresh and unique content. These are great lessons. :)

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  31. "Just Dance" has inspired me through many a long day :) Fun--and true--tips! Especially that one about outrageous behavior....

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  32. I recently read an article on her - and what I respect about her is that she sees herself as an artist and whatever she's involved in - she wants it done right. And as writers, we should keep that in mind - our name is on that book and we should be proud to say its ours.

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