The word Pixar, for me, is full of nostalgia.

The memories are visceral and countless.

I have just called in sick to school, lying on the couch, bundled up in a pile of blankets, binge-watching my favourite movies – Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, Finding Nemo, to name a few. 

I was glued to the television screen for hours and hours, completely enveloped by the characters, the adventure, the story. 

At The Story Co., we think A LOT about storytelling. What makes a great story, what stories are worth telling, and what is the best way to share these stories?

And, in the spirit of storytelling, Pixar knows a thing or two about exactly that. 

Initially, Pixar’s Rules for Storytelling were shared via Twitter by a former Pixar employee, Emma Coats. In a series of tweets, she explained that these rules were a mix of things she had learned from Pixar’s writers, directors, and coworkers speaking about their craft, paired with her own efforts in making films. 

Her intent in sharing these wasn’t to create any hard and fast rules in how we approach storytelling. Rather, they were shared to jump-start the brainstorming process, begin the conversations, and help flex our creative muscles. 

While there are a total of 22 rules included, my picks are ones that I believe are applicable to not only storytelling but also offer some pretty great life lessons. And, as a story junkie myself, life lessons are something that I think storytelling is pretty great at. 

Admire characters for attempting more than what their successes have been.

I think we can all agree with this statement. 

We shouldn’t be defined by our successes or our failures. Rather, it’s the space in between where our character is developed – the behind-the-scenes, working our a$$ off to get to where we are at now or where we want to get to down the line.

And, let’s be honest, a protagonist who never fails at anything and never experiences any sort of conflict is, well, unlikely to grab anyone’s interest.

Stories have struggle, empathy, and ultimately our admiration for a character derives from us being able to see and relate to their adversities.  

Why must you tell this story in particular? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off? That’s the heart of it.

I love this one as it relates so strongly to purpose. 

What about this story lights your heart on fire? 

Essentially, this rule is getting us to dig deep.

It’s all about ignoring the noise and really narrowing in on exactly what we need to share and the reason we need to share it.

It’s about creating a solid foundation so that we can craft complicated characters and intricate plot lines.  

No work is ever wasted. And if it’s not working, let go and move on — if it’s useful, it’ll show up again.

A great tip to avoid writer’s block! But I also really love the overarching idea that no work is ever wasted. 

Whether it is finding the right story to tell or REALLY anything else in life… trial and error is how we learn.

To find out what’s right for us, we have to try out ideas, we have to refine these ideas, and if they don’t work… we change them and try again. 

As they say, all vision is revision.

Storytelling isn’t about picking one thing and sticking to it. It’s adaptable and malleable.

And, if they say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, then practicing your craft doesn’t mean getting it right every time.

Putting it on paper only allows you to start fixing it. If a perfect idea stays in your head, you’ll never share it with anyone.

Now, this rule might seem blatantly obvious. Although, I think it’s always a great reminder in avoiding “perfection paralysis”. 

Like the previous rule, understanding that the first draft isn’t going to be the final copy alleviates the pressure to get it right the first time. 

Someone once gave me this advice that you’re never going to feel 100% ready. If we wait until we reach that, it’s never going to happen. 

Sometimes we just need to start with all the information we have right now and then move forward from there. 

At the end of the day, we have to risk failing in order to get to where we want to go. And, if we fail? We revise and try again.


We are all storytellers in our own way. As a storyteller yourself, which rule resonated with you the most?