Robert Dilts is one of the key thinkers in Neuro-Linguistic Processing (NLP) and a number of the tools used by business on a day to day basis owe something to him.
I attended his Master Practitioner course in 2003 and it certainly opened my eyes to a wealth of new ideas.
I am going to look today at one of them. This is Dilt’s analysis of Walt Disney’s creative strategy and how it may have a bearing on writing.
One of Disney’s closest associates said: “…there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming into your meeting.”
By this he meant that Disney approached the creative act in distinct phases. First he would imagine what the finished product was like. Next he would breathe life into it, often by acting out the parts himself. Finally, he would evaluate it and criticise it, thinking especially how the audience would react to the film.
Here’s what Disney himself had to say about the art of making animated films.
“The story man must see clearly in his own mind how every piece of business in a story will be put. He should feel every expression, every reaction. He should get far enough away from his story to take a second look at it…to see whether there is any dead phase…to see whether the personalities are going to be interesting and appealing to the audience. He should also try to see that the things that his characters are doing are of an interesting nature.”
As a writer this translates to me as:
1. researching, planning and plotting.
2. doing the actual writing, acting out the characters and action in words, being there.
3. getting distance from the writing. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. Trying to see it through other people’s eyes, the eyes of the people you hope will read and enjoy it.
Physical environment is important for me in this. I often get my best ideas when I’m dreaming in a cafe, away from where I normally work, without the distractions of friends, laptop or internet. I also find I get great ideas if I’m sitting with my feet off the ground. I’ve no idea why this is; perhaps I’m tapping into being like a little child sitting on a swing or a chair that’s too big, perhaps it’s because I’m not tied down to the ground. This is clearly the dreamer stage.
When I write I write on a laptop and it could be almost anywhere. I do need space, however, and I need sufficient privacy, or comprehension from my wife, to talk to myself and act out the parts. I’ve had sword-fights with adversaries. imagined a long ride on a horse and even tried to pick pockets. This is the realist stage where I work at my novel.
The final stage, the critic, I do in a number of ways. I leave as much time as I can between writing and doing a re-read and starting to edit. This is getting the distance that Disney recommends. I put the book in PDF format onto my Kindle so I can see what the reader will see. I then put the Word Document into ‘Read’ view to give myself another different perspective. I give it to my beta readers and my editor before taking the cut and paste to the document again. If something doesn’t sound right then I read it aloud. (A recent book I’ve read ‘Can’t Sell, Won’t Sell’ by Sean Campbell and Daniel Campbell suggests using the Text to Speech function which I think is a great idea. It’s a good book, well worth reading.)
The important thing to remember is that you cannot miss out any stage or minimise it’s importance.
For indie writers, especially, who don’t have the benefits of publishing house editors, copy-editors and readers, the final stage of critic may be the most difficult and, therefore, the one that is likely to be more rushed.
You need them all, I reckon.
Robert Dilts gives lots more information about the Disney Strategy. Check out what he has to say and then give it a try.