What Prince Taught Me As A Writer


In this series of posts, writers share what movies, TV shows, celebs, etc have inspired them and taught them about writing. Enjoy — and if you want to share yours? Check out the submissions guidelines at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

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Sometimes it snows in April … Too right. When Prince unexpectedly died on April 21 at the tragically young age of just 57, it’s an understatement to say I was gutted, just like (seemingly) everybody else.

Prince was my first love. I grew up not just listening to his music, but ABSORBING it wholesale. I have every album – yes, even the obscure AND plain bad ones! – and like the cliché goes, I feel every word is for me. I can probably sing most of his back catalogue AND tell you the stories behind each one. Yes, I am an uber-fan. A Prince Geek, if you will!

But enough of my nerdery. However you feel about Prince’s music, he had a deserved place on the world stage as a superstar … Here’s what he taught me as a WRITER:

1) Story is key. Beyond PURPLE RAIN, Prince was never *really* known for his movies and rightly so, because they were pretty awful. However, as a storyteller through his music, he was EXCEPTIONAL. When so many musicians prize catchy riffs and funky arrangements – and why not – Prince was able to do all that AND tell a great story.

Now, being The Purple One, these stories were frequently lewd, rude, challenging or even philosophical and religious (!), but they were always KEY. They were also in the kind of detail you don’t often hear in music, bringing forth characters’ journeys so vivid you could see them in your mind’s eye as clearly as any movie.

(My personal faves include obvious ones like Raspberry Beret;  When Doves Cry; Hot Thang and I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man … But also include less-celebrated songs, such as He Died For The Tears In Your Eyes; Another Lonely Christmas; Anotherloverholeinyohead; The Morning Papers; Love you to The 9sJoy In Repetition and Girls And Boys. What about you? Leave your fave titles in the comments below!).

2) You must BE YOURSELF. Prince showed it was possible to SELL without SELLING OUT. He was unapologetically himself, yet at the same time was an ENIGMA. He was a walking paradox and all the more fascinating for it.  He embraced who he was, yet made it all about the music. No mean feat.

3) You must keep going. Rejection is part of EVERY writer’s life … But if we want to be professionals, we have to take failure in our stride and keep on going, no matter what. That’s just the way it is!

Now unlike most of us, Prince peaked “too soon” — even most die-hard fans like me agree the majority of his best stuff was done before he was 35. That said, it’s worth remembering his superstardom was still some twenty years in the making!

Even a huge star like Prince can show us success is about the JOURNEY, rather than the DESTINATION. A lesson to us all? I’d say so.

call_for_submissionsHas a movie, TV show, or something else inspired YOU as a writer?

This is a new series for the blog, “What [TITLE/NAME/THING] Taught Me As A Writer”. Write a short, to the point article and get your message out to the LondonSWF network!

  1. Pick a movie, TV show, screenwriter, object, event – whatever!
  2. Write up to 250-350 words on what it taught you as a writer AND WHY.
  3. Don’t forget your 1-2 sentence bio, plus links to Twitter, blog, etc.
  4. Send a pic (jpg only) if you want us to include a particular one, but do make sure it’s rights-free.
  5. Send it to Lucy V or via Bang2write@aol.com.

Looking forward to reading your posts!