Writing

Protecting Your Process

Dan Brown

Lesson time 15:39 min

When it comes to writing, Dan’s philosophy is simple: protect the process and the results will take care of themselves. Learn how to beat writer’s block and structure your writing habits in a way that maximizes your creative output.

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Dan Brown
Teaches Writing Thrillers
In his first-ever online class, best-selling author Dan Brown teaches you his step-by-step process for turning ideas into page-turning novels.
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Preview

So you're setting out to write a novel. And you're smart enough to know that this is a long process. You need to understand that every day of the process, that it is a long process. You're not writing a song. You can't be inspired and finish this in a day. You are trying to write something that-- no matter how fast you write-- it's going to take you a long time. It might take you a year. It might take you three years. Which means that writing a novel is about a process. It is not all about inspiration and craft. It is about making sure that you set aside time every day to do your work. When I was just starting out as a novelist, I was often overwhelmed, the way so many people are when they try to write a novel. It's a big project. And you sort of feel like, how can I do all of this? And I heard a great piece of advice. And I put it on a sticky note, and I stuck it to my computer. And it basically said, "Protect the process and the results will take care of themselves." And all that means is that your job is not necessarily to write a novel. Your job is to get up every day, put yourself in the chair, do the very, very best that you can to create a novel, and eventually the pages will pile up and you'll have a novel. For most writers, myself included, the prospect of writing a novel is a little intimidating. And there can be moments when you say, I don't know if I can do this. And this idea of just protect your process and the results will take care of themselves, it just kind of lets you relax and say, wait a minute. Maybe all I have to do today is make sure that I get to my desk and do my work. [CLASSICAL MUSIC] Everyone is going to have their own process. For me, I like to write first thing in the morning. I am at my desk at 4 o'clock every day, 365 days a year. That is my process. That's my time. And by working early in the morning I signal myself that this is the most important thing you're going to do today. That's just the way I do it. Some people write at night. I know a lot of people who write in the morning, a lot of very successful writers. You're fresh. If you're up at 4:00 AM, nobody's calling you and there's no email pouring in. And speaking of email, my writing process includes a space that has no internet. I have no email pouring in, no matter what time of day it is. I've created a space that is essentially no email, no internet, no phone. And I just say, this is the place where I create. That's my process. I can get distracted in a hurry. We all can these days with the internet. It's so easy to say, I'm just going to research this one little thing. And you get online and three hours later you've learned a whole lot of stuff that's irrelevant to what you're doing. In fact, when I'm writing I may get to a moment in the text where I think, oh, I actually need a piece of information that I need from online. I can't go online. I don't have the internet where I work. I actually just put a bunch of big, red X...


Craft page-turning suspense

Packed with secret symbols and high-stakes suspense, Dan Brown’s thrillers have sold more than 250 million copies and include one of the world’s best-selling novels, The Da Vinci Code. In his writing class, Dan unveils his step-by-step process for turning ideas into gripping narratives. Learn his methods for researching like a pro, crafting characters, and sustaining suspense all the way to a dramatic surprise ending.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Dan Brown was amazing! Loved the class. I took away so much. From writing techniques, to the how important the process is versus how much you write, and so on. Thanks

I really loved enthusiasm of Mr. Brown. I want to do execercises on the notebook and read some of the books he recommends. And write my novel this summer. Thanks everybody who are in this project of masterclass. Canan Şahin

This class has helped me identify the obstacles to my current work in progress and help overcome them. It has inspired me, motivated me, and given me the permission to have confidence in my own voice.

I liked Dan Brown's straight forward methid of instruction. Some if the other writing classes don't have this. I found this to be very easy to understand and actionable.


Comments

Chris

Truly inspiring! Applicable to more art forms as well. And guess what, I found a publisher for my first novel to be released in April next year. Thanks so much! 🙏

Dan U.

This man is the complete package for novel writers or writers of fiction. He is brilliantly creative in his approach to the process however one can go or explore more in depth. It means reading a lot of different writers to derive technique and “voice”. Dan Brown covers this as well. Creativity is tough but I’m convinced with enough reading one can paraphrase techniques and creative a tool box with all the necessaries to confidently write and edit a novel. Great introductory course.

Nancy G.

I've really enjoyed this class and hearing how even the experts struggle with their writing, which is actually very encouraging. Thank you, Mr. Brown, for your honesty and guidance!

EK T.

This is, hands down, one of the best of the MasterClass series. The content and academic processes are spot on. The thing is, I have no intention of writing a novel. I am working on several screenplays and stage plays. I was looking for any information necessary to help me to create more interesting characters and plot lines. Much of what I have needed to hear has been presented here.

Cynthia H.

Very Inspiring! I like all that you have said here... particularly the last part where you explain to keep things like a gesture drawing - a raw sculpture - before going in and sanding out the details. I also like how you started this - by explaining that it is important to reserve time to write hours - each day, rather than committing only to a page number. This is a great part of your class series, well worth seeing again and again. I also like the fact that you explain how you first wrote "The Da Vinci Code" - with the washer machine running in the background on an ironing board. I like your story of how. you wrote your Arctic story when you were in a cold room with an area heater. These are great inspirations! I really like your class - I'm learning a lot by taking it - and I'm referring a lot of people to your classes!

A fellow student

Amazing. Useful. True. He guesses and solves all my problems ! Thank you Dan.

Shayne O.

I couldn't agree more. Aesthetically where you are when writing doesn't really matter, but I agree a quiet space with no distractions is imperative. And my only real indulgence is air-con , because I find it difficult working in heat and high humidity. I like the x's and go back later and do what you have to do. I turn off notifications on my computer or put onto airplane mode. I get up every hour and stretch including eye exercises. Great session.

Donna S.

I like that he emphasizes the importance of protecting your process. It's not always easy, but it is important to stick to it and be firm with family and friends who know you are home and say things like, "Since you're not doing anything..." then they go into their request for help or a favor or whatever.

Tyra M.

Thank you for the excellent advice, coming from someone who uses it and has the sales to show for it adds weight. I have found myself saying to people, well that works for Dan Brown, so yeah, I'm doing it, lol. I find myself fleeing the house to go to a local restaurant where I can sit at their only round table and write. No dishes, no laundry, no phone (I do have my cell, but I use it only as a phone, no data), and for five dollars, all the tea I want (free refills if you bring your own teabags, lol). Today I will be there all afternoon due to my husband hitting a deer with our SUV (deer was fine, another few feet and he would have been at a complete stop, grill and bumper cracked), being checked out for insurance reasons. I've changed the opening of Lake Effect to add a deer collision.

Karmen B.

Great lesson. Many important tips and pointers to finding one's own process, and I like Steven Tyler's advise, 'dare to suck'.