Recently I mentioned I’m a fan of the TV show Ted Lasso. Don’t worry, I won’t give anything away here, if you haven’t seen it yet. This is what you need to know: The bumbling, ever-positive Ted (played by an amusingly mustachioed Jason Sudeikis) is an American college football coach hired to coach a ragtag football club across the pond (yep, “soccer” to us here). He literally knows zip about British football. But what he does have to offer is folksy advice—often unsolicited, but always on-point—for those who need a little motivation. Or a lot.
Taken together, Ted-isms add up to your garden-variety formula for success: hard work, perseverance, luck, empathy, thinking outside the box, a sense of humor. He also regularly offers something that’s in short supply these days: Hope.
Then came an episode that made me sit up from my comfy spot on the couch and almost drop my bowl of ice cream. Coach Lasso had uttered the perfect writing quote. Onscreen, he was giving someone a pep talk re: the challenges of life—but it was also a concise explanation of story structure:
“Fairy tales do not start, nor do they end, at the dark forest. That’s only something that shows up smack dab in the middle of the story, but it will all work out. It may not work out how you think it will or how you hope it does. But believe me, it will all work out, exactly as it’s supposed to.”
How’s that for the Hero’s Journey? Also, pretty much every writer’s manuscript-in-progress.
I soon realized Ted had plenty of other great advice for writers. Quotes are always open to interpretation, of course (looking at you, English 101), but here are some of my favorite Lasso-isms:
RE: The Writing Process
Taking on a challenge is a lot like ridin’ a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it you’re probably doin’ it wrong.
Translation: Writing is hard. And it has nothing to do with your chair or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
You know why the goldfish is the happiest animal on earth? Got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish.
Everyone’s a critic. And sometimes people can be downright mean. If you must read those one-star reviews, be a goldfish.
Don’t you dare settle for fine.
In the show, a character was referring to romantic relationships, but I think the message for writers is clear: Revise, revise, revise.
RE: Motivational Snacks
Let yourself enjoy that biscuit.
Translated from the Brit, this means, “Go ahead and have that cookie.” Really. You deserve it, after expending all that mental energy (and physical, too, if you count the trips to the fridge and sharpening pencils). Should you need additional permission, here’s another morsel from Ted:
I never met someone who didn’t eat sugar. I’ve only heard about them, and they live in this God awful place called Santa Monica.
And don’t forget Ted’s motto, displayed in a one-word, hand-printed sign above the door of the team locker room. I have an identical sign posted on the back of my office door. I give it a tap every day on my way out to the field. I mean, pitch. Whoopsie doodle-do, my bad again. On the way to my computer.
Readers, do you have an inspirational quote to share? Or are they not your cup of tea (aka “absolute garbage water,” according to Ted)? Let us know in the comments below!