My History with How To Think Sideways

In 2012, I was introduced to Holly Lisle. At that time, she offered a couple of big courses and several smaller ones. I elected to sign up for one of her big courses and… I think I seriously underestimated the depth of the course. Seeing that a lesson will be delivered weekly for about six months is one thing. Sitting down at the end of it, having downloaded every last thing Holly offered up for my use and seeing that the course takes up 1.76 GB of space on my drive was quite another.

That course was How To Think Sideways, now branded as HTTS Ultra.

Now, let's be honest: I am not the world's best writer. I've talked on this blog about how I struggle with writing and depression. I'm fairly certain they both feed into each other. Which means I have some to a lot of work to do in that area. That aside, I have been writing since… if you count serious attempts, since about 2000, with various pieces dabbled in before 2000. I'm pretty sure none of my writing from that time exists anywhere and for that I am glad. It was pretty damn horrible. I've improved since then.

Part of that was practice; which may not be what any of you want to hear. Part of that was down to taking HTTS.

From all I've seen, Holly remembers what it was like for her when she was trying to become published (she has adult children now, so it's possible she was raising kids and writing novels, and kids are a freaking handful). And because she remembers, she's built a lot of freedom into HTTS–and I would assume, all her courses. The lessons were delivered weekly, but there was absolutely no expectation or obligation to complete them weekly.

It's possible that Holly does intend that it's a six month journey, with the students completing one lesson a week. That didn't work for me, still doesn't, so I've been very happy with the freedom to complete things at my own pace. If that freedom had not existed, I would have taken what I paid for and walked away.

The freedom existed and I've stuck with Holly.

Holly offered forums, still does. I've never used them, though I've heard good things from other students (indirectly, it must be said). It's probable I'm screwing myself over by not using the forums, but I've yet to feel comfortable with the idea. It doesn't matter that I don't use the forums–I've got the lesson pieces and I can work with them.

I gave Holly my money. She gave back her knowledge, her experience, her own work. In the first lesson of HTTS Ultra, she's given a walkthrough with scans of her own worksheets. I'll admit to a little cheating and sometimes sneaking a peek at how she's answered a question she's posed us, simply because seeing that she's thought of adding in details about what the senses are experiencing unlocks my thought process.

(Let's keep that a secret between us, okay?)

Holly's been right for me. In 2007, I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo, a novel that I then rewrote for NaNoWriMo 2009. The base idea is more or less solid, but the way it is presented, the way the world is formed… all of that has changed, thanks to Holly. And I personally believe the story will work a lot better with the changes I've made. Just need to sit down and write it out.

I've watched a video from Holly Lisle about fixing the worst mistake writers make—in three minutes. I like her delivery; it made me laugh. But more importantly: she made a very good point. Not going to spoil it, as you can watch it right here: 3-Minute fix for the WORST mistake writers make. It also comes with a free PDF on how to beat Page-One Rejections.

I've read said PDF. I need to rewrite that 2007 novel to fix these problems. Like I said, I'm not the world's best writer. But I'm going to be a pretty damn good one.


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