23 August 2008

Month One: Think Sideways Review (Plus Some Goodies)

Warning: this post is loooooong.... O:)

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last week about how I wanted to write this – because I have been wanting to write it for the last week, but as you can see, uni has prevented me from posting much of anything :D One thing that I think is rather sad is that whenever anyone follows the words ‘This is really good...’ with the words ‘...and you should buy it!’, their motivations are immediately called into question. So I’m going to get the ‘deal’ bit of this review out of the way now, and then move on to the fun stuff – including a free pdf for you if you read all the way to the end :)

The Deal

Holly Lisle’s Think Sideways course is a brand new course that teaches ways to think sideways, and survive a writing career. The 300-seat first class sold out within three days, and that the second class isn’t going to open until the present one ends – aka, February.


All students are automatically affiliate members, and while the program wasn’t going to open until the second class did (not much point otherwise, really), as it stands 4 people have had to drop out of the course for financial reasons.

So the affiliate program is opening early. Next Monday, Think Sideways will open for registrations through affiliate links only. This is where the deal comes in: should you decide that this sounds like something you want to try, and sign up through my link, I get a 50% commission on what you spend. If you let me know that you bought through my link and show me a copy of your receipt, I’ll send half of that 50% back to you when I get it (paid at the end of each month, I think). In effect, it means you get a 25% refund. That’s the deal. On to the review.


Hehe, the killer. When I was reading the pre-discussions of this course, I was all like – Squee!! This sounds so AWESOME!! But how much will it COST?? And of course, the price wasn’t released until the course went live, and it went live at 2am my time... Me, get up in the middle of the night to register for a writing course? Would I do a thing like that? O:) Heh, when it comes with the added bonus of not having to disclose the price to my DH until I’d already paid for it, you bet I would ;):D

Anyway, cost. The course is US$47 per month for 6 months. Payments are monthly only, via paypal. You get 4 lessons per month (actually 1 per week, so occasionally you’d get 5 in a month), which equates to something random like $11.50 per lesson. Not bad – but still not small change. What sold it for me was the refund policy: drop out of the course at any time and you’ll get a full refund for any lessons you haven’t yet received for the month. I figured worst case scenario I’d get lesson one and have to drop out, and the experience would have cost $12. Not so bad.

Fun Stuff – what I’ve learned

Ah. The rave section. :o) Honestly, I really do love this course to pieces, so if I end up raving, I’m very sorry *blush* :D

So. Month one. The month of learning to communicate with your Muse, aka your subconscious mind. Some of you, I expect will be familiar with the concept of brained-ness – people tend to be left brained (logical, rational, planned, etc) or right brained (creative, artistic, spontaneous, etc). But writing uses both sides of the brain. You have to think and plan and be logical, otherwise your story will have plot holes a mammoth could run through. But you have to use your right brain, too, to give your story heart and sparkle – to make it shine. And that’s what this first month of lessons has been about: learning to get both parts of your brain to communicate with each other, at will, on demand.

Lesson One begins with four barriers to ‘thinking’ and how to break them – the biggest one, for me, being perfectionism. I’d like to think I’m a recovering perfectionism, but when I’m in the grips of a first draft, and the story is beginning to spiral off track and I hate everything I’ve written and everything I’m going to write... Or when I’m mid-edits for the fifth time on a story and still can’t get it write... Yeah. Perfectionism rears its ugly head. So, this is an introductory lesson, but it also includes techniques for breaking your thinking barriers, and setting yourself up for successful communication – with yourself :D

Lesson Two. I’d like to say this has been my favourite lesson, but the others are cool too :o) It’s certainly awesome, though. This is the lesson that introduces the concept of a Sweet Spot Map, a map created by your unconscious that directs you towards the heart of your writing. You can pull stuff of this map and shove it into any story, in any genre, and still be guaranteed to love it. It’s a great tool for sad-but-occasionally-necessary changes of direction mid-career. For me, it’s just sheer FUN. My Muse adores this map so much that I quite literally never go anywhere without it, and am often pulling it out to add a word here or there. ‘The sound of glass shattering’ was today’s addition to ‘I love’. Yesterday I added ‘which triggers a DNA shift’ to ‘I get shivers from’. (No, I’m not entirely sure what it means :D That’s kinda the point, though). ‘Ocean’ showed up more than ten times, scattered variously between ‘I fear’, ‘I get shivers from’, and ‘I am drawn to’ :o)

Lesson Three is learning to call down lightning :D It’s about getting your muse to generate the good stuff on a deadline. The techniques in this lesson are so fabulous, I’m using them for everything and anything that I need input on from my tricksy subconscious. You set the parameters, and wait. Learning to trust that the muse knows what it’s doing has been hard, but I’m still practicing, and it’s generating more concrete ideas and plot twists and so forth for my current WIPs in a shorter time frame than I’ve ever gotten before :)

Lesson Four. Wow. I still can’t get over just how huge the impact of this lesson was. This is the lesson where you learn how to tell the bad ideas from the good, and the good from the great. In a way, many of you have been affected by this lesson already. Reading this lesson is what prompted me to re-evaluate my WIP list, ensuring that the ones that made the final cut were the ‘great’ ideas, not just the ‘good’. Re-evaluating my WIP list prompted a lot of my friends from Critique Circle to re-evaluate their WIP lists, shaving off the fat, trimming dead wood – weeding their great ideas from their ‘just okay’ ones. And they haven’t even read the lesson. In fact, most of them didn’t even know I had, or why I was evaluating my WIPs. And yet the content of this lesson was still conveyed to them. *shakes head* I’m still amazed :)

So there you have it. One month. Four lessons. The entire way I approach my writing changed. I’m proud of those stories that have made the final cut. I’m itching to write them, and I know I’m going to have a lot of fun doing so. But also, I can see something else that’s important: the final cut aren’t just a random collection of stories. They’re a body of work. A collection. They share similar themes and tones, issues and styles – they share me. I can see someone, in years to come, reading one of these books and going ‘Yep, that was a Laurens book.’ (Hopefully followed up by ‘and it was just as good as the rest of them’, of course :D)

To finish, the free pdf I mentioned J Holly has a newsletter where she answers questions that people email her, and last week someone happened to ask a question that Holly had just answered in a Think Sideways module – so she’s giving the module away for free J It’s Lesson Seven, which I’m not actually up to yet, so it’s new for me too. Reading over it, I like it, and I can see how it ties in to the continuum of the Think Sideways course – but it’s on character development, and some of you will already have a pretty firm handle on that. Mind you, I guess if I were Holly I wouldn’t be giving my best modules away for free either ;) Anyway, here it is :)

Congratulations and *cookies* for making it all the way to the end. You deserve a medal ;):D


Anonymous said...

Hi, seriously thinking of taking this course so I've made a note of your link.

Alexandra Marell

Inkblot said...

Hi Alexandra! :)

If you have any questions, or just want to chat about the course in general, you can email me at blot.of.ink(at)gmail(dot)com :)

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Video Poetry said...

Is your offer still on for Holly's course if sign up is through your link?

Inkblot said...

Vid Poetry - it most certainly does.

Can you email me at blot.of.ink(at)gmail(dot)com to discuss details, please?

Thanks :)

Inkblot said...

Is. I meant it is. o.O


Justin said...

I am acutally in the throws of the course myself, and I absolutely love it. I would recommend it to anyone.

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