Name your favorite computer animated film, and it's likely that Andrew Stanton had a big role to play in bringing it to life. 

The screenwriter behind Toy Story never expected the script about two toys would one day grow into a full-blown franchise. Four Toy Story movies later -- plus a couple Oscars for WALL*E and Finding Nemo, which he directed -- and Andrew Stanton is a household name in film.

It all started with that first idea. 

"We were just a bunch of guys in an animation studio driven by a complete fear that this was our only shot to make a film," Pixar VP Andrew Stanton recently told Creative Screenwriting magazine. 

That was the early '90s. Two decades later, Toy Story franchise still lives on. How do Stanton and his team continue to come up with good ideas and keep delighting fans?

Stanton sums it up like this: "Be wrong as fast as you can." In his experience, the faster you get your ideas out, share them, and make decisions, the faster you can get to the good stuff. 

Creativity never happens in a vacuum. 

Stanton is not the type of creative genius who sits alone in a dark cave and waits for light-bulb moments to magically appear out of thin air.

A key ingredient in his process is to get ideas out so people can react to them. He welcomes failing publicly among his peers -- as long as it's happening quickly so he can get fast feedback.

"As long as I do it fast, I stand a better chance of finding the correct answer which is most likely many script passes away," he explains. "Time is never your friend."

The case for fast and imperfect first drafts.

Though very few of us will ever become Oscar-winning screenwriters, Stanton's advice is relevant for all lines of work. Getting ideas on paper as fast as possible -- whether it's your first business plan or the idea for a marketing campaign -- is an important first step to building anything great.

The fast part isn't always easy. The perfectionist in you may want to keep workshopping your idea until you feel confident you're on the right track. It takes vulnerability to share something before you feel it's truly ready for prime time.

Yet what if the idea turns out to be a bust? You'll have wasted all that time perfecting it. Or, it may be a perfectly great idea that will ultimately evolve or morph into something else once you finally get it out there. 

Both are reasons to get on with it sooner rather than later. Remember Andrew Stanton's advice to fail as fast as you can. ​

Published on: Oct 29, 2019
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