I'm going to be straight with you—I am a Beyoncé fan. In 2003, I thought I was her. I've been to four or five of her concerts. I tried to be cool and not watch Lemonade live, only to discover HBO pulled it a week later. So I bought it. I BOUGHT a music video.
And today, I'm leveraging my love for Beyoncé to bring you three writing tips that will help you channel her greatness.
3 Writing Tips from Beyoncé
Regardless of your opinion about Beyoncé or her music, we can all agree she's a success. Therefore, there must be some writing tips we can learn from her.
Here are three tips I believe writers can learn from Beyoncé:
1. Success Requires a Strong Work Ethic
I’ll never forget watching an episode of “Making the Video” (or something) where Beyoncé was filming her “Baby Boy” video.
The choreography required a backward somersault that she just could not land in rehearsal. It was fine, her people told her. Go home, they said, as she would have time to get it right during the shoot.
She did not go home.
Instead, we watched Beyoncé do that somersault over and over and over again until it was second nature. When it came time to shoot the video, she nailed it on the first try.
Beyoncé is able to make her singing, dancing, and running the world look easy because she has a strong work ethic. She has faith in her abilities, and knows that anything is possible with enough time and dedication.
It’s easy to find reasons to quit working on your novel, essay, or other project, but if you want to be a Beyoncé-level writer, these excuses simply won’t do. Like your favorite “Formation” artist, you must stay committed to your craft and keep going until you get it right.
2. Writers Should be Inspired by the Greats, Not Intimidated by Them
I’ve read multiple interviews where Beyoncé speaks wistfully about the days when watching music videos was an “event.” There was a time when the whole world would sit in front of their TVs at 8pm to view a Michael Jackson video on network television.
Most artists would have simply put MJ in a separate category: “He’s on another level and therefore I’m not going to even try to have that kind of impact.”
Beyoncé didn't let Michael Jackson's success intimidate her. Instead, it inspired her. Just a few weeks ago, she created her own primetime event with “Lemonade” on HBO. HBO made its channel available to everyone for that week, and if you (like me) hadn’t spent your Saturday night watching, you quickly learned you missed something.
There can only be one Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling, or Cheryl Strayed, but don’t let their greatness hinder you from exploring your own. Be inspired by the greats, and create something only you could.
3. Express Yourself Through Your Art
Why else do we write, right?
Beyoncé is interesting in this regard. She is pretty private and controlled, refusing to talk about the difficult things we all think we deserve to know. She doesn’t do interviews anymore. In fact, Beyoncé barely even speaks to anyone outside of her inner circle.
But when it comes to her art, it’s a whole other story. Through her music, she shows the pain of her miscarriage. Watching her video, we feel the anger she felt after being betrayed by her husband. She even told us something about her stance on feminism when she did an extremely sexy and racy dance during an awards show (where her daughter was in the audience) with the text of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s “We should all be feminists” flashing in the background.
I'll admit Beyoncé is a little extreme in her practice of expressing herself through her art and only her art, but I respect it. Music is what she is good at, music is something she knows she can get right, and so that’s what she does.
The writing tip here is that if you feel most comfortable writing, then write. Even if you wouldn’t want to see it on the front page of the NYT, write that love letter anyway. If you suck at oral presentations, but are great are writing memos, then hey—ask to present your work in writing. Lean into writing, because it’s what you do.
Learn from the Stars You Admire
Obviously, I love Beyoncé. And after years of listening to her music, reading her interviews, and watching her documentaries, I've learned a lot about the habits and characteristics that have helped her become such a huge success.
Beyoncé may not be your favorite artist. (Maybe don't tell me that, though.) But I'm sure you know of other stars you love. As you follow their work and learn about their process, you'll glean wisdom and writing tips that you can use to be successful in your own work.
What other writing tips can we learn from Beyoncé or other pop stars? How can you channel their greatness into your writing? Let me know in the comments.
Think of an artist you admire. Then take fifteen minutes to write about them when they're in the midst of their creative process. Maybe you'll imagine J.K. Rowling scribbling away furiously, or Beyoncé about to try her fiftieth backwards somersault.
When you're done, post your practice in the comments. And if you share, be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!