Re-Learning How to Think (About Writing)

Yikes! It’s September and I never posted my “Writing Update” for July. I’ve been busy, and one of the things I’ve been busy doing is taking Holly Lisle‘s new online course: How to Think Sideways. I’m really enjoying the course, and I’m amazed at how well some of the techniques are working for me.

The first section of the course is all about ideas. If you write anything like me, sometimes you get ideas that seem to almost write themselves. In my case a lot of these had themes of objects that seemed to pop up in multiple otherwise unrelated stories. One of the first things I got out of this course was a much fuller understanding of what this means, how to map out the things that set off my imagination, and how to use this understanding to tap into story ideas in a more “on demand” fashion. It’s like finally having the address for that P.O. Box in Schenectady.

One of my biggest problem with ideas is that I do get a lot of them1 . More that I possibly have time to write2 . Sometimes I get pretty far into turning the idea into a story before I realize that it’s not as great as I thought, or it’s just not for me. One of the biggest things I’ve taken away from the course is how to figure these things out quickly, and well in advance. This lesson came with four versions of the proposal for her novel Talyn, three as examples of what not to do, and the version that sold to Tor (that’s about 150 pages of examples for one lesson).

The second section (which I’m getting into now) is about planning. What to plan. What not to plan. How to avoid over-planning. How to plan and still allow things to grow organically. This is something I’ve struggled with over numerous short stories and three novels, and I welcome any help in making sense of my experiences.

Invitation Only Limited Time Offer!

The first run of this course (300 seats) sold out fast. Holly has opened up sign ups between now and September 8th, at 9am EDT on an invitation only basis. If it’s sounds at all interesting, consider yourself invited.

  1. That is too a problem! Trust me. []
  2. Although if someone wants to fund my early retirement I’d be willing to give it a go! []

7 Comments

  1. “One of my biggest problem with ideas is that I do get a lot of them1. More that I possibly have time to write2. Sometimes I get pretty far into turning the idea into a story before I realize that it’s not as great as I thought, or it’s just not for me.”

    This is my biggest problem, by far. I have a job where I have the freedom to think all day, and end up with 22 new stories ideas, and/or doubting my existing work.

  2. […] you are here, stop by Jay’s post, and Jean’s post. One of my biggest problem with ideas is that I do get a lot of them. More […]

  3. Jason Penney says:

    @S William Shaw – Hey, great to see you posting again! Thanks for stopping by. My work lately has been keeping me too swamped to think about writing during the day, but there are times (particularly when whatever I’m working on at the moment slips a bit to close to feeling like work) that I seem inundated with ideas (funny how great they seem when they’re trying to distract you from your last great idea).

  4. Pink Ink says:

    Hi,found you through S. William Shaw :-)

    I get Holly Lisle’s newsletter. She’s great, isn’t she?

    Yeah, my challenge too is sifting through all the ideas and staying focused. Right now I am revising an ms and trying to re-write my NaNoWriMo baby from last year. At least I can say I am not bored.

    Good thoughts.

  5. Jason Penney says:

    Originally Posted By Pink Ink
    Hi,found you through S. William Shaw :-)

    I get Holly Lisle’s newsletter. She’s great, isn’t she?

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

    Holly is great. Her free writing book Mugging the Muse is what really got me off my butt from thinking about writing to writing.

    Good luck with your revisions!

  6. I am writing at night now as well. And it is a big change. I used to write in the morning, first thing after waking. I didn’t have time to daydream, and fall prey to other ideas. Now, i have all day to think before I write, and it is much harder for me.

  7. Jason Penney says:

    @S William Shaw – I found my experience to be similar. When I’m trying to work on something in progress the sooner I can get to it the better (I also seem to have more of an “I can do anything” attitude early in the day).