What are the wisest and most inspiring quotes from visionary pioneer and storyteller Walt Disney that screenwriters can apply to their screenwriting journey?
If you’ve been watching Disney+, you may have come across the amazing docu-series The Imagineering Story, created, directed, and executive produced by Leslie Iwerks.
The series focuses on Walt Disney Imagineering and takes an in-depth look at the history and creation of the Disney theme parks and attractions around the world. The first episode focuses primarily on Walt Disney, his early animation work, the creation of Walt Disney companies, his film producing, and the creation of Disneyland and Disney World.
Inspired by this outstanding series, here we present fifteen wise and inspiring quotes from one of the world’s greatest storytellers, Walt Disney.
1. “All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.”
We’ll offer another quote that can help put Walt’s quote into perspective.
“A dream written down with a date becomes a GOAL. A goal broken down into steps becomes a PLAN. A plan backed by ACTION makes your dreams come true.” — Greg Reid
Read ScreenCraft’s THE Motivational Quote to Make Your Screenwriting Dreams Come True!
Dreams are attainable. But they require committing to a goal, making a plan, and taking action. And it takes courage to pursue a dream.
Most people in this world don’t pursue a dream. They earn a living, raise a family, and they die, perhaps dealing with the regret later in life or on their death bed, asking themselves, “What if I would have pursued that dream.”
If you’re reading this, you are not that person. You’re an uncommon breed because of the mere fact that you’re trying. That means something. In fact, that means a whole lot because you’re doing what most of the population doesn’t and never will. You’re pursuing a dream despite all of the odds against you. That takes courage.
2. “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.”
Walt embraced three things throughout his life — laughter, imagination, and dreams.
He was known for his smile and his laughter. He brought that into his life every possible moment he could. When you’re able to laugh and enjoy life, you’re able to avoid taking things too seriously — even when they likely are very serious in the big scheme of things. The point is to have some levity in difficult situations. And as a screenwriter, you’re going to face a lot of hardships and rejection. Being able to laugh during those times is essential.
And look at what Walt did with his other favorite words — imagination and dreams. He created timeless characters. He built an empire centered on dreams and wonder. He created the happiest places on Earth.
Embrace what Walt embraced, and you’ll do just fine in life and in your screenwriting journey.
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3. “Why worry? If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.”
Worrying about whether this industry insider or that industry insider will love your script is wasted energy. You have no control over that.
You have no control over who responds to your script, and who doesn’t.
You have no control over who buys it and who dismisses it.
All that you can do is make it the best possible script that you can. And if nobody responds to it, then you move on and continue that learning process.
Worrying is a waste of energy and time. Why worry about something you have no control over in the first place? Just write the script, write it well, get it out there, and let the fates decide the rest as you move onto the next.
4. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Most can talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk. Talk is cheap. It means nothing until you do the work.
Nobody cares how good of a pitchman or pitchwoman you can be. Nobody cares how well you can analyze a movie or screenplay as a screenwriter. If you can’t sit down, do the work, and deliver on all of that talk, you’re not a screenwriter.
Less talk, more do.
5. “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
An underrated trait of a great screenwriter is curiosity. Curiosity will lead you to amazing concepts. Curiosity will drive your research process. Curiosity will help you to explore and discover the best story and character arcs.
In screenwriting and life, curiosity is what keeps us alive, breathing, and thriving — always searching and discovering. Embrace curiosity.
6.“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”
Walt believed the impossible — and he made the possible happen.
The laymen’s interpretation of this quote is, “Don’t do anything half-ass.”
If you want to be a screenwriter, you have to go all-in. You have to believe that it’s possible. That belief will drive you to do whatever it takes to make that dream come true. You won’t let naysayers dissuade you. You won’t let the odds against you defeat you. You won’t take no for an answer. You won’t quit until you’ve achieved that dream. Why? Because you believed in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.
7. “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done right.”
Don’t quit on a concept or script.
Look, it’s going to be hard to crack the story. It’s going to be hard to crack the characters. It takes effort. It takes imagination. It takes exploration.
When the going gets tough, and you find yourself in a rut, don’t make the mistake of saying, “This just isn’t working.” Make it work. Do the work so that you can make it work. And don’t stop doing it until it’s done right!
8. “Whatever you do, do it well.“
Avoid the pitfall of being complacent and settling for average or less.
Every script that you write should be the best possible version that you can conceive — even if you’re writing simple concepts or formulaic genre scripts. Do your best to elevate those concepts and those types of scripts. Write the best damn possible version of them.
Whatever you write, make it great.
9. “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all the troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
You must fail before you can prevail. Failure teaches you the necessary things you need to learn to succeed.
So when failure and rejection are evident (and they will be a majority of the time), embrace them. Learn from them. Ride the waves of any trouble, obstacle, or adversity, for when you exit that wave tunnel, you’ll come out a better screenwriter — and a better person.
10. “A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there.”
Don’t go into your screenwriting journey without knowing what you want to get out of it. Yes, your goals can evolve, adapt, and change as you discover more and more about yourself as a writer. But you need to start somewhere.
Don’t wait too long, floating in the wind aimlessly. Set your eyes upon a goal, make a plan, and take action to implement that plan.
11. “Happiness is a state of mind. It’s just according to the way you look at things.”
You can choose to be miserable because you’re struggling through a screenplay, trying and failing to get it read by Hollywood insiders, and having the pressure on your shoulders of finding a great (and marketable) concept to write.
Or you can be happy knowing that you’re doing what most people in the world will never do — chasing your dream.
12. “I always look on the optimistic side of life.”
If you choose to look upon Hollywood and your screenwriting journey with a pessimistic viewpoint, you’re not going to last very long in this industry. You’re going to burn yourself out and waste any talent that you do have.
You submitted a screenplay to a major contest, made it to the finals, but didn’t win. You can either cry out against the contest and become cynical of the process, or you can look on the optimistic side of life and say, “I made it to the finals of a major contest!”
A producer read your script but said it wasn’t for them and passed. You can either wallow in self-despair, or you can look on the optimistic side of life and say, “I got a producer to read my script!”
When you focus on the positives in life, you won’t be blinded by the cynicism and pessimism that often clouds the vision of most novice screenwriters.
13. “Do a good job. You don’t have to worry about the money — it will take care of itself.”
Again, don’t waste your time worrying.
There’s a common saying in Hollywood development when it comes screenplays — the cream will rise. The best-written scripts always get their due notice. Your primary focus shouldn’t be on getting the big paycheck. It should be on writing the best possible script you can.
The rest will take care of itself.
14. “Dreams, ideas, and plans not only are an escape, they give me purpose, a reason to hang on.”
Your screenwriting dream gives your life extra purpose. Your concepts allow you to escape and become world-builders. Your plans give you a goal each day, week, month, and year.
Having dreams, ideas, and plans are essential to a healthy and fulfilling life.
15. “The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting.”
You lose when you quit. You can’t win when you lose. If you stick with this screenwriting journey and genuinely feel that it’s right for you, you’ll win in the long run. You’ll find a way.
And you’ll know when screenwriting is right for you when you face the hurdles, the heartaches, the struggles, and the rejection — and still want the dream despite all of that.
Read ScreenCraft’s How to Talk Yourself Out of Quitting the Screenwriting Dream!
Bonus Quote: “… And just like that, after a long wait, a day like any else, I decided to triumph, to look for the opportunities, not to wait. I decided to see every problem as the opportunity to find a solution. I decided to see every desert as the opportunity to find an oasis. I decided to see every night as a mystery to solve. I decided to see every day as a new opportunity to be happy. That day I found that my only enemies were my own weaknesses, That day I lost the fear of losing and I started to fear not winning, I discovered that I was not the best and maybe never have been. I stopped caring about who was the winner and who was the loser. Now I care only about knowing more than yesterday. I learned that the hard thing is to stop climbing to the top, instead of not reaching it. I learned that the best triumph that I can have is to have the right of calling someone ‘my friend’ I discovered that love is more than a feeling of being in love, ‘love is a philosophy of life.’ That day I stopped being a reflection of the few triumphs in my past, and I started to be my own tenuous light of the present; I learned that it does not matter if you are alight… if you are not going to illuminate another’s road. That day I decided to change so many things… That day I learned that dreams only exist to be made to come true. Since that day I don’t sleep to rest… Now, I dream just for dreams.”
Thanks for teaching us how to embrace our dreams, Walt.
Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.
He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies