Do you struggle to unleash the muse while writing? Where do the cool ideas and twists come from, anyway? An online course that has made a big difference to me has been Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers. I took this self-paced course several years ago and found many of the lessons to challenge my brain cells and try new ways of dealing with the writing process from ideas through prep through writing and revising.
Ideally, a person would sign up for Think Sideways when they’re ready to brainstorm a new project. Sadly, when I took it, I was midway through a first draft. I’m a poor multi-tasker, so many of the lessons, while read, didn’t get applied right away. At this time I’m brainstorming a new series and thought this might be an excellent time to revisit the course. While you’re taking it, you can download a lesson per week (or choose the biweekly option). Of course now I have all the lessons, so I can vary the speed, spending more or less time on some than others.
Holly Lisle is a multi-published mainstream author in romantic suspense, fantasy, science fiction, and young adult fantasy. She also has a very analytical mind and can break processes down into distinct steps. She’ll be the first to admit that not everything that works for her will work for everyone else, but I’d agree that every writer trying to unlock their muse is going to find many parts of this program resonating with them. As such, it’s not just for unpublished writers. Quite a few published authors have found much to be helpful, and I’m certainly not the only graduate of Holly’s class that has gone on to land a contract.
So far this week I’ve gone back through the first few lessons. These address the mind of the writer and finding out how to discover the themes and stories that resonate with you through a series of specific mind-mapping exercises. I’m willing to bet a few entries have changed on my mind maps from when I did these before. I’m not sure where my old ones are, though!
One of the things that Holly says is that these themes and ideas transcend genre, and I can really see that. A big part of my reinvention from speculative fiction writer to contemporary romance author has been to discover the elements that attract me to fantasy–and what their correlation might be in a contemporary setting. I used techniques from How To Think Sideways to get deeper into my own mind.
If you’re at a spot in your writing career where you could use a fresh approach, check out How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers . Yes, the link is an affiliate link, so if that bothers you, feel free to delete that section of the URL.
I’m pretty excited to be going back through this course over the next few weeks or so, and I’d love to “talk shop” with you!