Friday, January 18, 2019

10 Writer Takeaways From My Trip To Disney World

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Last week I took a trip to Orlando with one of my daughters. She was running in some of the Disney races and I went along to be her cheerleader. And of course we spent time playing at the parks and visiting Disney Springs. We had a fabulous time - of course I always have fun when I spend time with any of my kids.

But keeping in mind that this blog was coming up, I kept my eyes open for writerly lessons I could take home to share with you.

With that in mind, I present the following:


  1. Disney is Overwhelmingly Positive
    When you’re at Disney World, you’ll see there's always a smile on people's faces, be they characters, vendors, waiters, bus drivers or greeters. And if problems do crop up (we had to wait two hours for our room to be ready) they maintain an upbeat, empathetic attitude and put your comfort at the top of their list.
    Writer Takeaway: Life is going to throw you curves, whether it be health issues, family issues, writers slump, bad reviews or something else. But there’s no upside in deliberately airing these to your readers, especially if you’re just trying to garner sympathy. Your contract with your readers is to entertain and engage them, perhaps even challenge them, and most of all to provide them with a world they can immerse themselves in to forget their own cares for a while.
  2. Managing Expectations
    If you’ve spent any time at Disney World you know that you spend a lot of time standing in lines waiting to get into the rides and attractions. In fact, for one of the more popular rides, my daughter and I spent two hours in line. But there are electronic signs posted outside of each ride letting you know what the expected wait times are so you know up front what you're letting yourself in for and there are no surprises. And every time we stood in line, those numbers were right on the money.
    Writer Takeaway: Always let readers know when they can expect to receive the next release from you and then make sure you meet your deadlines if at all possible.
  3. Keep The Illusion Going
    Speaking of standing in lines, one of the things I noticed was that even in the area set aside for those waiting, Disney was doing their best to keep us entertained. There was special artwork, scenery, flora, audio, etc. to hold your interest, and every bit of it was designed to fit within and support the story world of the ride/attraction.
    Writer Takeaway: There are lots of things I can do to keep my readers engaged between releases, be it newsletters, short stories, bonus content, blog posts or teasers from upcoming releases. But whatever I do, it should fit within my personal brand.
     
  4. Details Matter
    The 4 Disney World Parks are divided into different areas – for instance Animal Kingdom has Pandora, Africa, Dinosaur Land, as well as others. In each of these areas the landscaping, employee clothing, restaurants, shops, etc. – everything down to the tiniest detail - is themed to match the story world you’ve entered. It is to the extent that an elaborate system of tunnels run under the park so characters from one story world never step into a different story world to risk shattering the illusion.
    Writer Takeaway: All of the details and subtext I put into my stories should be chosen with care so that no author intrusion slides in to spoil the reader immersion into the world I am building for him/her.

     
  5. Understand And Respect Your Audience
    Before I left for my trip I read somewhere that all employees of Disney World are taught that when you point, for whatever reason, always do it with two fingers. That’s because folks from all over the world visit the parks and in some cultures pointing with one finger is extremely rude. I kept an eye out while I was there and found it to be true, the workers and cast members do this consistently. This is just one small example of how Disney treats their audience as cherished guests.
    Writer Takeaway: Understand who your readers are and what expectations they have for the books they read and the experience each will bring, and be aware of this in your writing. This doesn’t mean you can’t deliver surprises, just that you remain mindful of how you deliver them.


And of course music from Disney movies is everywhere - parks, resorts, buses. And I found 5 takeaways from those as well.




  1. You’ve Got A Friend In Me (from Toy Story)

    Writer Takeaway: Writing can be a lonely, solitary business. Savvy writers will take the time to make personal connections, to be supportive of other writers and to maintain connections with friends outside of the writing community.
  2. Bare Necessities (from Jungle Book)

    Writer Takeaway: Most of us are working with limited resources when it comes to finances and time. But we all bring a special resource to the table – our creativity and storytelling abilities. That is the true ‘bare necessity’ it takes to succeed in this business. As for the rest, work with what you have and know that, if you stay alert to opportunities, you can go a long way on your God-given talent.

  3. A Whole New World (from Aladdin)

    Writer Takeaway:
    Take the time in your worldbuilding to transport your reader to someplace they’ve never been before or to see the familiar in a whole new light, and make sure there are things to make them feel wonder and surprise over.

  4. Let It Go (from Frozen)

    Writer Takeaway: There are things that will come your way – story ideas, promo opportunities, project participation offers, etc. - that you won’t be able to pursue/take advantage of. Hard as it is to let them go, you have to accept that they were not to be and don’t let regrets weigh you down.
  5. Go The Distance (from Hercules)

    Writer Takeaway: No one promised it would be easy or quick – persistence is key to making it in this business. As is the proper training – the best writers know that they never reach the point that they know it all.




There you have it, my 10 writerly takeaways from my trip to Disney World. What do you think? Have you ever been to Disney World and if so do you have anything to add to the list?






39 comments:

  1. Winnie, when we went to Disney back in 2011 the thing that struck me most was their attention to detail. Even in our hotel room, and it could be the tiniest things. Like the lace curtains that, upon further inspection, had characters from the Lion King woven into them. That was a big takeaway for me and how I could apply it to my writing. Yep, Disney is definitely the master.

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    1. Hi Mindy. Absolutely! Their attention to detail, and especially to branding is without equal.

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  2. Hallo, Hallo Ms Griggs,

    Even spending time outside the park in the 'backyard' of Disney you'll find this happy attitude and a outgoing motivation to help you find your way round. I always loved the energy of Disney & Universal for those reasons as you could go and have a heap of fun whilst your enjoying the imaginative worlds they encompass. I haven't been to the parks since the early 2000s as the last time I went I took my parents to Nite of Joy which was fantastic as we had a chance to get into the park early and staid til it closed. The concerts were lovely but it was the serendipitous adventures inbetween which rocked.

    You can definitely pull out life and writerly lessons from going there, I agree! I loved the ones you've highlighted especially:

    * How to handle the curves in life and how to set your attitude to transition through them

    * The immersion effect of telling stories - irregardless of medium or media used

    I think you could add to this list to be consciously aware of how to thread 'light' into the undertone of stories without a plot moving into too dark of waters. Esp true for Suspense/Mystery/Thriller plotting but also for domestic stories as well. I always felt Disney had one thing going for it - it celebrates the Light, Joy and Happiness in life - you might have hurdles to leap through but there is something to be said for finding ways to smile, laugh and curate a measure of joyfulness in your heart whilst your adversities seek to destruct your spirit.

    Such a lovely topic to explore! I wonder if anyone considered writing a companion to Disney about "life lessons & affirmations by visiting the parks"? Whilst interviewing others who could share their own stories towards that end? You should if they haven't - your halfway there already!

    Thanks for blessing our Friday with this happy discussion - I feel next week might be the week I can finally start writing. I was only waiting to feel better from that beast of a virus I had for 4 and a 1/2 weeks -- this weekend I can tell I'm clear of it which means, I get to buckle down into my writerly thoughts and see what starts to percolate!

    Happy weekend, all!

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    1. Hello Jorie. You're welcome. Oh, I like the one you added - threading light and inspiration throughout your work is a definite lesson to add.
      I'm so glad you're feeling better, and good luck with your writing goals!

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    2. Thanks Ms Griggs!!

      I loved how you were discussing the affirmations & inspirations which were personally resonating with you - this happened to be one of mine as I do look at the undertones in stories quite a heap. I don't mind if there is adversity, conflict or obstacles in a person's path (within a story irregardless of genre or mainstream/INSPY) but I find too oft writers forget to look at that tone in the narrative. Darkness can really go dark super quick if their not watching for it and I personally love finding the writers who seek out the Light and have it running underneath their narrative prose. It is also something I strive to maintain myself as I love stories that fuse this into the background.

      Bless you for saying this, Ms Griggs! I'm really stoked I can begin writing and just spend the coming year sorting out where I am as a writer plus watch the story I'll be nurturing to life. It is a good place to be for a New Year.

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  3. I have always wanted to go to Disney but have never been. Its in my "someday" list. :) Thanks for these insights. Great things to consider in the writing process. Lee-Ann

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    1. Hi Lee-Ann. You're quite welcome, and I hope you do get to go someday - you won't regret it.

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  4. Great takeaways! As Jorie said, you could come up with tons more points from this trip, which sounds like so much fun!

    The thing that stood out to me is standing in line for 2 hours for a ride. Oy vey!! Sounds like a healthy dose of patience is also in order if you want to go to Disney World.

    I went in 1982, and it was still magical even back then.

    And the lines were just as long....

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    1. Hallo, Hallo Ms Hillman,

      So kind of you to mention me, I was thankful I could return to Seekerville this month, as I wanted to return to HHH as well but the comments weren't open for Name/URL like they are here - lovely to see you! *waves*

      For me, the lines are half the fun - you get to gab with your fellow waiters & have this other layer of joy whilst in the park(s). Also it shouldn't come as a surprise but I am not the only bubbly chatterbox in the fam, so technically we meet a *heap!* of lovely spirits who love to have these randomly spontaneous fireside chats - which just increases our happiness tenfold! lol

      I also agree w/ you about the magical beauty of Disney being timeless; whether you practically lived there as a child (such as I) or only came once; it renews & blesses your heart whenever your there.

      Many blessings to you, Ms Hillman!

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    2. Hi Pam. Yes, 2 hours sounds like a long time, but good company (my daughter) coupled with Disney's entertaining and informative tidbits along the way, make the time pass pleasantly enough. And oh, the people watching opportunities :)

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  5. Winnie, this is brilliant. I have never been to Disney and don't particularly want to go, there is very little in life I would stand in line for at this point and that includes rides. But I admire you for getting so many life lessons out of one trip! Which means if you get life lessons, WE get life lessons, and we don't have to spend all that money or stand in line. I love the idea of the electronic signs letting you know your wait time. The DMV in my area has those now and it really helps, as much as anything can help a visit to the DMV.
    This is a catch-up day for me but everything's going really slowly and I'm stalling on a couple of things, so will probably be back.
    Kathy Bailey
    Avoiding chores in New Hampshire

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    1. LOL - I'm not sure this qualifies as brilliant, but it was fun. And I am QUITE familiar with the fine art of procrastination - good luck on getting motivated (but would love to see you pop in again!)

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  6. Fun post, Winnie. I have not been to Disney World, although I have been to Disneyland in California. I do know that anything Disney is a stickler for details. Nice way to tie it into writing.

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    1. Thanks Sandy. And yes, Disney is AMAZING with the details.

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  7. Winnie, I love how you merged your Disneyland experience with writing takeaways. Amazing! I loved every point. I bespecially liked your suggestions for keeping readers engaged between books.

    It's been decades since I visited Disneyworld, but I do remember the magic, the wonder, and the fun that seemed to float on the air in that place. But now, I have "Bare Necessities," and "You've Got a Friend in Me" going through my head. Thanks! I think. ;)

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    1. Thanks Jeanne! And LOL on the ear worms - but there are worse songs to have stuck in your head.

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  8. As someone who has never been to Disneyworld, I thoroughly enjoyed your writerly take on the attractions and theme songs. Lots of good things to keep in mind and bookmark in this post, Winnie. Hope you enjoyed your time with your daughter!

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    1. Hi Christina. So glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, spending one on one time with my daughter was one of the best parts of the trip.

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  9. I remember my only trip to Disney world in 1972. They were very efficient in moving the lines and hordes of people. As writers we need to be efficient.

    By the way my book from you arrived. Thank you so much.

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    1. Oh, that's another great takeaway - be efficient.
      And thanks for letting me know the book arrived - hope you enjoy!

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  10. On the other hand, I have the highest respect for WALT Disney, who revolutionized modern life, or what was modern life at the time.

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  11. Winnie, this post is absolutely charming. And a good lesson that no matter where we are, there's always something we can glean to make us better writers and people!

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    1. Thanks Erica! And it's a lesson I keep trying to remember, especially when I'm out of my 'regular' environment.

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  12. Hi Winnie:

    My high school class was so big that we graduated in the Rose Bowl and the senior class had a Disneyland party with other senior classes in the area. As far as I remember the seniors had the whole park to themselves that night. It was all students and the lines were not very long at all. But then Disneyland had only been open for seven years at that time.

    I love the ingenious way you've presented your writer points. You are a natural teacher.

    Details Matter
    Writer Takeaway: All of the details and subtext I put into my stories should be chosen with care so that no author intrusion slides in to spoil the reader immersion into the world I am building for him/her.


    Yes, indeed, and also I have found from paranormal writers that the more strange your world is, the more important it is to give minute details. These almost meaningless details keep making the odd ball elements seem real. (Like a time machine that is leaking a substance that smells like a combination of cinnamon and olive oil. "I smell it too. This must be an older model Travler". )

    A Whole New World (from Aladdin)

    Writer Takeaway: Take the time in your worldbuilding to transport your reader to someplace they’ve never been before or to see the familiar in a whole new light, and make sure there are things to make them feel wonder and surprise over.


    Interesting point. I've always felt that this 'new world' viewpoint is built into all the Amish stories and that feature is a big reason for their popularity.

    Great post!

    Looking forward from more from your pen.

    Vince

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    1. Hi Vince. Glad you found value in the post. And it is so cool that you and your classmates once had the run of Disneyland!!

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    2. Vince, loved learned about your senior party at Disneyland and your high school graduation at the Rose Bowl.

      I first went to Disneyland while on a trip to the Rose Bowl when Ohio State, my alma mater, was playing. Walking toward the park, I started to cry...really! I never thought I'd get to Disneyland. So there I was, 18 years old, crying! :)

      Years later I took my son and a bunch of other Boy Scouts to Disneyland when we lived in CA. After going to Disney World with its expansive acreage a number of times, the California park seemed so small. :)

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    3. Hi Debby:

      How about this: I was in a bar in Pasadena on New Year's Eve 1968 which was full of very drunk Ohio State football players. Many of the locals were buying more and more drinks for the OSU players trying to ruin their Rose Bowl performance the next day.

      The next day, on New Year's Day, OSU beat my brother's school, USC, 27 to 16! And I wanted to cry!

      Given the dates, I think you were there at that time! Also given that my sister and brother in law worked for your husband in Atlanta, I think we have the makings of a paranormal story. :)

      Vince

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    4. I was later, Vince! Good story though. :)

      OSU didn't win the year I went to the Rose Bowl. :(

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    5. I went back and checked Rose Bowl history and found that OSU and USC have played many more times than I remember. So your age is safe! Well, at least you saw Disneyland.

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  13. Hi Winnie, great post and lots of tips from Disney. We've gone a number of times and it's always magical!

    Some years ago, I did a blog post on Walt Disney. He struggled to make ends meet and had lots of rejections, but he believed in himself and his work and never gave up. I love learning how very successful people achieved their fame...always through hard work and perseverance, which applies to the writing life.

    A Disney song? "It's a Small World." The writing world is as well. Don't burn bridges and never vent your frustration on social media.

    How did your daughter enjoy her races? My eldest and her hubby did a marathon there.

    Hugs!

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    1. Hi Debby. And yes, magical is a good word to describe Disney and all they accomplish. I will have to look up your post on Walt Disney himself - I can imagine it's quite inspiring.
      As for my daughter, I'm not sure enjoy is the right word, but she certainly felt a sense of accomplishment when it was over.

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    2. As I recall, the runners receive nice medals too! :)

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  14. We love Disney World and have taken the kids there a few times. I think my husband and I love it even more than they do (we never went as kids.)

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    1. Hi Dianna. I'm just a big kid when it comes to Disney :)
      I enjoy it every bit as much as my kids ever did.

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  15. I really want to go. Think I could talk my husband into it as work-related? Ha!

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    1. Hi Amy. I definitely buy it - just point to my post if you need back-up :)

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  16. Love it, Winnie! Great takeaways. I'm actually going there next month with my little granddaughter. I hope I can find some great takeaways as well.

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    1. Thanks Suzie. And what fun that you're going to be able to share the experience with your granddaughter! It's always great to experience it through the eyes of a child.

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  17. Winne, thanks for the insights. The last time I was there,(20 years ago) I was impression how the actors stayed in character. As they interacted with children anxious for pictures they never broke character. When we write our characters we need to be sure the twists or reaction match them. If we haven't reveal the inner conflict of a cheerful woman and she suddenly screams at the hero it's jarring.

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