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The Secret to Taylor Swift’s Success as a Writer (It’s Yours, Too!)

In an age when music stars are seeking our attention with the way they (barely) dress and with shocking antics, there comes along a refreshing singer- songwriter who refuses to conform to sensationalism.

So what is the secret to Taylor Swift’s success? What makes her different?

The Secret to Taylor Swift's Success

Whether you’re a fan of hers or not, you probably are a fan of an artist’s work, the art, taking center stage rather than tabloid accounts of their personal life.

The message Taylor Swift is sending is clear:

The work matters. Your art is what is most important. (Click to Tweet)

Perez Hilton recently remarked on his blog that you will never ever see Taylor Swift’s belly button. Unfortunately, his remark came across as a complaint when it should’ve been a compliment.

How is it possible for one of today’s biggest music celebrities to remain decently covered up?

It’s simple: The art speaks for itself.

Taylor Swift tends to remind me of someone else who was a person to be admired for all the right reasons, Princess Diana.

Princes Diana was a very caring person who went out of her way to do things for others, especially kids, and I thought of her when I recently watched a video of Taylor Swift (in cooperation with Scholastic) talking to kids about how reading and writing can open a world of possibilities.

And that’s where we come full circle:

The art of storytelling

The secret to Taylor Swift’s success has been and always will be, in the writing.

She knows how to tell a story and she’s so good at it she can tell the same story over and over again, but in different, yet familiar, ways.

A master storyteller can keep you entertained with the same story forever. (Click to Tweet)

Sure, Taylor has great producers, great marketers (including herself) and great support from family, friends, and fans, but ultimately it all comes down to her ability to write a good story.

First and foremost, she’s a writer:

  • She’s either written or co-written every song she’s ever released. (Source)
  • She was the first guest on the Saturday Night Live TV Show to write her own monologue. By then the show was already well over 30 years old! (Source)
  • She was the youngest songwriter (age 14) ever hired by Sony/ATV music publishing. (Source)
  • She wrote a 350-page novel at the age of 12. (Source)
  • She won a national poetry contest in the fourth grade. Her poem was titled, “Monster In My Closet.” (Source)

Taylor knows the secret to success in all forms of art, is to tell a compelling story.

All those antics some other “artists” use to get noticed is just glitter, and glitter eventually falls to the ground and gets swept away.

She writes about her doubts, about being bullied, and about love, but not frivolous lyrics, these are about her personal experiences.

She’s honest and sincere when she’s happy, when she’s sad, and when she’s angry and frustrated. Her emotions, her beliefs, and her entire being are in her work.

As writers, you and I know, the truth within is the most difficult to share, but the most important to write about.

1989

The Take Away:

You need to write good stories. (Click to Tweet)

Marketing yourself and your work is necessary, but between the tension of marketing and telling a story, the story should never be compromised.

If your writing is not getting noticed, write better stories.

Always strive to improve your skills as a storyteller. Don’t lower your expectations of yourself. No, never do that, because you’ll resort to throwing glitter.

If you raise your expectations, you’ll write better. I promise. Dig deeper, be honest and overcome your inhibitions.

Don’t worry about the critics and the haters, the insulters and the ridiculers. They will never accomplish anything meaningful. But you will.

Now go, write something awesome! Because you can.

Or would you rather show your belly button?

I didn’t think so, because…

You’re a storyteller.

And isn’t it good to know that that’s what matters most? Share in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

  • I had no idea that Taylor Swift was anything but a pretty face. I now will look at her in a whole different light. Thank you.

  • I love this post Brian! I like Taylor Swift’s music on the radio, but now I further respect her as a writer, and for promoting her talent for truth telling, and for not thinking her belly button is more important than her heart and brain. We should all strive to bare our writing souls and to allow our stories to shine on their own, without any added glitter.
    -Dana

  • Great post!

  • This is fantastic and gave great perspective into that world, it all boils down to the writing. That explains why some of my least favorite artists are glittered up.

    • Good writing stands the test of time… glitter is just noise. 🙂

  • Bryan,
    A great reminder. Story is what matters. Thank you. 🙂

  • Loved this Bryan and I appreciate that Taylor Swift concentrates on the more important things. And we can never be encouraged too much to improve our writing.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    WOWZAAA – I have never listened to Taylor Swift’s music, but her interviews and appearances highlight a vulnerable girl who has seen her share of struggles, but is still empowering herself and others to heal others – one song at a time <3

    Thank you so much for emphasizing the importance of storytelling, Bryan #HUGSS

    Kitto

  • Vicky Cox

    Although I do not have the talent of Taylor Swift, this was definately encouraging. Not to get to work!

  • Rachel

    I LOVE this. I’m a Taylor fan, and it’s pretty much for all the reasons you listed. The girl knows how to write meaningful lyrics. She does tell the same story over and over again, but always in a new way that speaks both universally and personally. Mass appeal with private vulnerability. I hope to be able to write novels like that one day.

  • Sharon Greene

    Awesome article! I’d rather not show my belly button.

    • Thanks, Sharon. Yeah, let’s let the writing do the work for us. 🙂

  • Okay – ya’ got me this time. This was an awesome article. I printed it and taped it to my wall. Thanks!

  • Authenticity and being real even when it hurts will always be what grabs the audience’s soul most! In a world in which many people get by with phoniness, in a world that seems to outright demand phoniness from us, it takes a lot of courage to speak from the heart. People admire that!

    I find it fascinating how media and masses can’t hold apart a creator/performer and a sole performer. People whose faces appear in public get 1000 times more credit than the people behind them; for example, take actors and screenwriters. The truly creative one in most cases is the screenwriter, but screenwriter’s names are not known in public at all, whereas everybody knows the actor’s name.

    Most extreme example to me is Elvis, who is hailed as a rock god but hardly wrote any of his songs himself – he was just a genius performer. Feel free to cruzify me for touching Elvis, but I just gave my authentic view, haha!

    It is how it is, that’s just how the world works. Short-term, glitter will usually trump anything else. Long-term, it’s often a whole different story though…

    PS: No way I’m showing my belly button – but I’m not exactly sure if anybody would wanted to see it… You showing yours, Bryan? 🙂

    • You’re right, glitter works short term. But I don’t re-read or listen to albums over and over because of glitter – there’s got to be ‘something’ there. Whoever has that ‘something’ gets me to purchase their next book or next album. And nope, not showing! 🙂

  • Katina Vaselopulos

    Enlightening, inspiring, and encouraging post, Bryan! Thank you! I am so glad I caught it!

  • I did not know any of that about Taylor Swift. Very compelling and worth keeping an eye on her and attempting to learn something. Thanks for sharing!

  • I bet there are a lot of musicians who glitter (verb) 🙂 just because they think it’s a necessary part of the job. I’m in the middle of creating my author’s site and finding clients. The aspect of authenticity and storytelling really makes me rethink my approach. I can glaze over the fact that I took a break from writing for several years and hope nobody notices – or I can tell the story of how I stayed at home with my special needs baby, and how thrilled (excuse me, THRILLED!) I am to get back to work. Thank you!

    • Sounds like you are THRILLED, Colleen. Good for you! Have fun with it.

  • Janelle Keith

    Such a great post! The other day I was confessing my fear of sharing with God because of the rejection we tend to feel as writers in our readers. I’m afraid to tell my story because no one cares about my story like I do. But God spoke to me directly to say…..”You are afraid to share because your story is My glory. When you write WHO I am in your story this is your message. There’s no fear in that can come against that.” My takeaway from my conversation was there is no fear if you are doing what God has designed to do.

  • Me

    I agree with you, she has a great ability to tell a story. I also wanted to point out that she works incredibly hard. She’s known in the industry for her worth ethic. NPR did an article about all the things that she’s done and it’s very inspiring and encouraging to see that hard work can pay off. http://n.pr/1Eh0CVe

    • I read that article the other day and you’re right, she works incredibly hard. The article is also a great roadmap for us. 🙂

  • jayna

    Great points, I watched her a few mornings ago. I kept thinking she is so classy. She looked cute, without being vulgar. Her songs are memorable. I watched her on The Voice, and marveled at her instincts. I will write respecting myself, and my audience.

  • GlambertTina

    yes as I don’t like her personally but I do like most of her music and I like the fact that she has never ended up like Miley Cyrus

    • I like that she hasn’t swung from a wrecking ball, too! She doesn’t need to, and neither does Miley for that matter.

  • Brianna Wasson

    Bryan, what a refreshing post! Thank you for it. Somehow I have recently forgotten the striving and the getting better. And, while I haven’t resorted to throwing glitter 🙂 I have maybe done worse and just settled for mediocrity. Thanks for the encouragement, Bryan. Truly.

  • Eric A.

    I really don’t know anything about her, but perhaps I will look into her. To be honest, I thought she was just another”teen idol”. I will listen to some of her music and see if I like it.

  • Great post, as usual, Bryan! 🙂 Taylor Swift is my all-time favorite singer/songwriter. Not only is she a terrific writer, but she’s a great business woman. We could all learn something from her!

  • Jade

    I have always believed she was a writer! Through ages I ve been following her! The lyrics with small little lines here and there are just so beautiful! Great post!