Ten Things That Writers Can Learn From “Finding Nemo”

At the weekend, I was watching Finding Nemo (again) with my boys. They love it. I love it. It’s in my top five favourite films of all time, which is really saying something bearing in mind I’ve seen it more often than the rest of the top four put together (and probably the rest of any top ten, if I ever went that far with a list).

(Yes, I know the (frankly disappointing) trailer for Finding Dory is out now. I care not for being topical!)

While watching Nemo, my thoughts drifted again to my own writing journey. This is dominating my thoughts at the moment… maybe yours too. And I realised that there are a bunch of things for writers to take away from the film, even leaving aside the obvious “write something even half as good and you’ll probably go a long way” point. I’m sure these lessons apply for many other paths through life too, but I’m working on Chuck Wendig’s principle that the internet is 55% porn/ 45% writers, and writing for the minority.

So, in time-honoured tradition, here are my top ten Finding Nemo takeaways for writers:

  • 1) The start of the journey will not be auspicious
    There may be a thousand writer-eggs born that start the journey, with protestations of “I’ve always wanted to write a novel“, but then the barracudas of life sweep in and suddenly the field thins down to… just you. Damaged, possibly emotionally and physically, but determined.
  • 2) The path to your ultimate goal is not easy, or linear
    There will be numerous challenges along the way. It does not matter how you reach your goal, only that you do reach your goal. If life offers you a chance to speed along on the writing equivalent of the East Australian Current, then take it. (And if any fellow writers have any insight as to what the EAC is for us, then please let me know in the comments!)
  • 3) Strange bedfellows will help you on your journey
    You will come across many types of people that you would not ordinarily hang around with, let alone rely on. These may turn out to be your greatest allies. “Fish are friends, not food.”
  • 4) Push yourself beyond your limits to achieve
    Even if you prefer the comforts of your writer-cave, rubbing yourself continually against the anemone of reassurance before venturing the smallest distance, that won’t take you very far. Embrace new experiences and challenges… You will have to risk rejection, in fact risk everything, to achieve your goals.
  • 5) Trust in your friends
    You cannot complete the journey alone. You will need the support of partners/ family/ critique partners / beta readers / fellow writers to make it. Take a small handful into your confidence, and trust them completely. If they tell you to move to the back of the whale’s throat, you move to the back of the whale’s throat.
  • 6) Understand the industry / agents / publishers
    Rejection is not personal. You are a fish. Those in the industry are birds. As Nigel the pelican says to Marlin and Dory:
    “Sorry if I took a snap at you at one time. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta eat.”
  • 7) Creating a buzz will help you succeed
    If “the whole ocean’s talking about it“, then it may just help you over the finish line when all hope seems lost. This buzz is created organically, without seeking attention.
  • 8) Plan thoroughly
    If your plan is immaculate, and executed to perfection, it is still no good if it leaves you floating on the sea in a plastic bag, with no obvious means of bursting the bubble to finalise your escape. “Now what?
  • 9) Success may not be what you expect
    Achieving your goals may result in you ending up back where you started, physically, but in an entirely different place, mentally and emotionally.
  • 10) Never give up
    The most important lesson of all comes from Dory. “Just keep swimming.”


So, those are my top tips for writers from Finding Nemo. Do you have any to add to this list, or advice gained from other unlikely sources?



Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/roome/313385621

38 thoughts on “Ten Things That Writers Can Learn From “Finding Nemo”

  1. Al, I love this film, a family favourite and what a wonderful way to transfer some very sound words of wisdom.Definitely inspirational. Okay, ‘I’ll keep swimming’. Just off to find the DVD for tonight first though! Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Who’d have thought so much wisdom from Finding Nemo? Lovely lessons in there. An interesting thing to me is how stories (in art and real life) constantly hammer away on universal themes, and the lessons appear everywhere, in the microcosm and macrocosm, in almost every relationship, action, and choice. For some reason, it makes me happy to know everything is intricately connected. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s been a while since I saw Finding Nemo. But these are all grat lessons. As a new writer starting out, the blogging community and my writers’ forum have been invaluable to me! Different cultures, nations, belief systems… And oh the lessons I’ve learned along the way…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is in my Top 5 as well. You’ve put together many of the brilliant ‘big picture’ ideas here – love it! I’ll add in ‘don’t cave to peer pressure, or you might end up in a tank with a bunch of strange fish’. Or, you know, writing porn. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These are excellent tips for anyone who likes to write. Thanks for such an encouraging post. (On a side note: I’m absolutely speechless what you took away from watching Finding Nemo! Bravo!!)

    Be well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi WP, thanks for stopping by. That was the name of the volcano in the fishtank (Mount Wannahockalugee) rather than a character, but the point still stands! (I have seen this film a lot!)

      And my ten things didn’t even include my love for the teacher… “let’s name the zones, the zones of the sea…” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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