Walt Disney created an entire movie empire based on cartoons and then on live-action films. Disney also created the amazing Disneyland theme park that’s the standard that all other theme parks measure themselves against. Yet Walt Disney didn’t always taste success.
Disney actually got cheated twice by men who took advantage of his good nature. His company was constantly losing money and on the verge of failure, yet he persevered and ignored all obstacles because he knew what he wanted, and what he wanted was a singular vision that he alone saw he could reach despite the criticism of others.
“How to Be Like Walt” is an interesting book that not only explains Walt Disney’s early successes and failures, but also explains the history of the Disney company itself. Disney didn’t succeed because he was lucky or naturally more talented than anyone else. Disney succeeded because he never gave up.
Walt Disney knew what he wanted and pushed himself and his workers to achieve his dream. So the first lesson on how to be like Walt is to define a specific goal and pursue it.
While Disney wanted to create a movie empire, he had standards. He couldn’t tackle controversial topics like “To Kill a Mockingbird” because he had defined his company as offering family entertainment.
As a aspiring screenwriter, you also need to define your standards. What will you do (and won’t do) to achieve success?
More importantly, how will you achieve your dream? Walt Disney wanted to offer family entertainment through cartoons at a time when rival cartoon makers often resorted to sexual innuendo, which Walt Disney refused to do.
Every aspiring screenwriter needs to define how they want to succeed. Will you specialize in horror? Comedy? Drama? Whatever you want, pick your specialty. There are thousands of aspiring screenwriters, so you need to stand out from the pack by specializing in your particular field so you will stand out.
Many screenwriters try a scattershot approach where they write anything that seems popular at the moment. That’s a huge mistake because by the time Hollywood has found success in something (young adult movies, horror, etc.), the trend will have already shifted to something else. Copy cat movies rarely succeed. Original stories will always have a better chance of success than ordinary clones of more popular (and likely better) stories.
So be like Walt and set standards for yourself. Do what you want but don’t cross the line to achieve success at all costs. You want to achieve on your terms because when you do, that will give you far greater satisfaction than simply doing anything to get ahead.
Many aspiring actors move to Hollywood to strike it rich. Most fail. A handful succeed. An even greater number resort to adult films so they can be in the movies, but at a tremendous cost.
Don’t be like the struggling actors who resort to roles in pornography. Stick to your standards and know what you want to offer to the world. If you know what you have to offer, you’ll have a much greater chance of succeeding like Walt Disney.