My Perspective on How to Think Sideways (and Why You Should Check It Out)

I’ve talked about Holly Lisle’s courses a time or two because her teaching method is detailed, effective, and offers solid tools that even experienced writers as I was when I first took How to Think Sideways can benefit from.

How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers (HTTS) is a step-by-step course taking you through idea generation to the completion of a manuscript over seven months. But more than that, it helps you discover what stories resonate with you. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing trends and offer cookie-cutter stories that lack the personal depth you could have been giving your readers. This course is designed to help you recognize when the story you’re writing has that depth, whether it’s part of the trend or something uniquely yours that may define a new subgenre.

When I first took HTTS, it was before the growth of indie publishing. Holly has since upgraded the course to offer guidance on both traditional and indie publishing avenues, so whichever route you’re planning to take, you’ll get some publishing guidance as well.

If you’re curious, Holly has put together a three-day class as a free introduction to the methodology used in HTTS. Whether you end up signing up for the whole class or not, you’ll walk out of the third day with the first scene of a brand new, ready to roll, story idea. You can sign up for the free class (delivered via email) here: Three Free Writing Mini-Workshops. It’s only available until March 5th.

Why am I talking about How to Think Sideways today?

It’s simple. Holly has decided the course is more effective for the majority of her students when taken in a group. This encourages students to develop support communities as they work through the sometimes quite difficult material in teams, creating friendships that last long after the class has completed. Because of this, she’s transferring from the always-on class to specific start periods.

Whenever you start, and however long it takes you to complete the course, you will always have access to your class materials. Many existing students have mentioned a desire to go through the class again, me among them, because you can see or understand new elements you didn’t the first time and they missed out on learning buddies. The way Holly sets her system up, this is possible without additional fees at any time.

If you’re a loner, there’s no obligation to work along with the community either. Your classes will be available the first time on a schedule and then whenever you want to jump back and review once the schedule is complete. This is critical because, in my experience, there’s no way to know which lessons will be a breeze and which will slow you down.

Holly is also in the middle of an ambitious plan to move her classes to a new platform, another reason for running just one more class through the existing one, giving her programmer time to focus. However, every existing student will be moved with the classes. You’ll end up with all the benefits of the new platform as soon as it’s ready regardless of when you purchased (true of existing students and new ones).

At this point you might be wondering what the dates are. HTTS registration will open tomorrow, February 27th at 10AM Eastern and closes on March 5th at 11:50PM Eastern. This will be your last chance for possibly as long as a year, so if you want to take it but aren’t ready to start yet, best to purchase now and then the first few classes will be ready when you are. You can sign up for an email reminder today if you choose not to check out the Three Free Writing Mini-Workshops by going to the How to Think Sideways registration page.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, the book I wrote during HTTS has not yet been released, but it’s a science fiction adventure set in the same world as Seeds Among the Stars though further along the timeline than Trina’s tale. Here’s a glimpse of my experience with HTTS and Molly, the Asteroid Miner’s Daughter.

Ask me anything in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer myself or point you to an answer. I enjoyed the class and use things I learned there with each new manuscript. It’s worth checking out her process-oriented teaching style with the free mini workshop. Just don’t contemplate too long or you’ll have to wait another year.

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