My Favorite Writing Advice ~ Be Wrong As Fast As You Can

Posted · 10 Comments

Be wrong as fast as you can.

Favorite writing advice:

“Be wrong as fast as you can.”

Who said it:

Andrew Stanton, Pixar Director

Why:

Well, Stanton isn’t a book writer, but I love his advice anyway because it applies to any artist in any medium.  He went on to say: “[That] basically means, we’re going to screw up, let’s admit that. Let’s not be afraid of that. But let’s do it as fast as we can so we can get to the answer.” In a different interview, Stanton’s coworker John Lasseter said that every Pixar film was “was the worst motion picture ever made at one time or another.” In case you don’t know, each and every Pixar movie (Toy Story, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, among others) has gone on to gross several hundred-million dollars worldwide.

Most writing first drafts are like that, too . . . the worst book/essay/poem/whatever ever written. They’re filled with random thoughts and tangents that don’t go anywhere and unresolved plot points and characters who don’t belong in the story. First drafts (& sometimes seconds and thirds) are for you as the writer to learn about the story and your own process and how everything fits together. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the writing process. And in case you don’t believe me or you’re having a hard time letting yourself write a lousy draft, you should read Anne Lamott’s fabulous book Bird by Bird in which she devotes an entire chapter to what she calls “Sh*tty First Drafts.”

How it changed my writing:

Well, I finally realized that the quicker I let myself make mistakes and move on, the quicker I’d get a finished book done, one that was worth putting out in the world. Every time I struggle on the page, every time I get frustrated and slow down, I remind myself to let myself be wrong as quick as I can so I can get on to the good stuff. I also remind myself that I’m in excellent company: if the brilliant creatives at Pixar can stink the first time around, well then so can I (& so can you).

So do you let yourself be wrong as fast as you can?


10 Responses to "My Favorite Writing Advice ~ Be Wrong As Fast As You Can"
  1. Michelle Muckley says:

    Good advice. I started accepting the mistakes on this book, knowing from experience by now that the first draft would be utterly full of them. It was much easier to write this book whilst keeping that in mind.

  2. What great advice. I’m sharing it with my writer’s group, and I’m sure they’ll be encouraged too.
    Thanks!
    I found you on the UBC. 🙂

  3. Sandy Coelho says:

    Good morning beautiful Shelli,
    This is just what I needed to hear. I am in good company. 🙂
    Great thoughts to keep in mind; I think fear of producing a stinker hobbles many writers [at least it does for me], when all we need to do is push through and see it to the end with our re-writes.
    You give great advice – thank you!

    • Hey lovely lady!

      Awww, you made my whole day. Thanks for the fab compliment. Made me smile ear to ear. 🙂 I’m glad this post was there when you needed it & yes, you’re in fabulous company ~ don’t you forget it. Write on!

  4. Amy says:

    Oh, I’ve read Bird by Bird (loved it!) and I KNOW this, yet I forget over and over and I fail to progress because I JUST DON’T DO IT. Thank you, Shelli, for reminding me of exactly what I needed to hear today!

    • Hi lovely Amy! *waves wildly*

      I’m so glad this post came to you when you needed to hear it. Yes, sometimes the doing it part is a little harder. 😀 I have to keep reminding myself of this often (even this afternoon), but it really will make you progress so much faster. Cheers, darlin.

  5. Candace says:

    I love this. It took me a long time to step outside of the box and understand that making mistakes is part of the process. I was always so fearful of what people would think of my thoughts. Now I just put it all out there. Sometimes I go back and think: man what was I doing? Now I know that it’s fine. Becoming a good writer takes practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.

    • Hi Candace!

      Thanks for the fab compliment. Glad you enjoyed the post. I think it’s hard for a lot of people to make mistakes, myself included. But it makes getting to the good stuff so much faster when we’re willing to just put it all out there like you said. Write on, darlin. 🙂

Comments are closed.