Some of you might have found me here from Holly Lisle’s “How to Think Sideways” course or the companion course, “How to Revise Your Novel.” If so, welcome aboard and thanks for stopping by. 🙂 If you don’t know what these courses are, see the little linkie-doos in the right column under “For Writers”? Click on ’em. They’ll open up in a new window.

Both of these courses, I speak very highly of. I have gotten so much out of both of them (disclaimer: the links are my “affiliate” links so if you do sign up for the courses, I get credit). This post, I want to talk about Thinking Sideways–both the course, and what the phrase means.

I’ve been writing for publication since 1996. I’ve completed ten full-length novels of “category-length” romance. Category romance lines all have very distinct voices, styles, and story types, and I just didn’t fit the mold. However, I did get positive feedback from those editors who were kind enough to add a personal note to my rejections. Most of my rejections stemmed from the fact that my stories were just a little too quirky for the lines. I was a little left of center. A little…Sideways. I branched out into erotic romance as an experiment and found a very brief, unsustainable flash of success.

Fast forward to two years ago.  In 2009, I went back to the drawing board, ready to reinvent myself–something I’d done before as category romance lines closed and trends drifted away from what I was writing. It was then I realized that, having pushed myself down towards the extreme end of romance and found it wasn’t truly where I felt at home, that maybe I needed to expand my horizons and figure out what I really wanted to write.

I found Holly Lisle’s Forward Motion writers’ group archives on her website, along with mention of a new course Holly was developing–one about thinking sideways. I realized that was what I was looking for. I needed a way to shake myself out of my assumptions about my writing, my career, and the path it had to take. I saved my money and signed up for the course.

Like I said, I’ve been pursuing publication since 1996. I’ve been learning the craft of writing since I could hold a pencil, and before I submitted my first manuscript, I’d taken some pretty aggressive writing courses. How To Think Sideways, for me, has a value above and beyond even the college-level courses I took. At the risk of this turning into nothing but a pitch for the course, I have to say that HTTS threw me a lifeline when I thought I’d been through it all. For the record, I never thought I knew it all–but after years of courses, I’d reached a point where the courses everyone takes weren’t teaching the stuff I needed to learn.

Occasionally, I’ve documented my personal use of the course. Not religiously, mind, but enough so that others can see how it’s helped me in my stage of the game–I’m not a complete n00b, but I’ve run into some brick walls. While there are a ton of courses out there that can give you the basics or get you started, there are far fewer that move you past that, or give you the tools to get back up after you’ve gone in the wrong direction. This is one of them.

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