From Dan Brown's MasterClass

Protecting Your Process

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.

Topics include: Limit Distractions • Be Tough on Process, But Gentle on Output • Give Crazy Ideas a Chance • Write Hours, Not Pages • Set the Table for Breakfast • Stimulate Creativity Through Physical Activity • Don't Focus on Details Too Early


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.

Topics include: Limit Distractions • Be Tough on Process, But Gentle on Output • Give Crazy Ideas a Chance • Write Hours, Not Pages • Set the Table for Breakfast • Stimulate Creativity Through Physical Activity • Don't Focus on Details Too Early

Dan Brown

Teaches Writing Thrillers

Learn More


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.


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

Wow! Dan Brown's class exceeded my expectations. It was worth paying the membership fee just for his class alone! I learned quite a few tricks, but I've also found lots of inspiration and it felt so good to hear that some of the things I do when I write, which I weren't sure about, is actually the right thing to do, because he does the same. It boosted my confidence. Thank you!

Dan Brown's Writing Thrillers Class is in a word...masterful. All writers will benefit vastly from his knowledge and experiences.

Dan Brown's Masterclass is the standard by which I will measure all of the following classes. It was informative, enlightening, and inspiring.

Dan provides everything a keen new writer could possibly want!



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'.

Mary Beth P.

I am coming at this course as a process engineer, and for a long time, I feared writing because of the need for perfection. Once I had a teacher show me that it is a process, and ever since, I do not fear it. I think of it as one large project. I love this idea of protecting my process. It is our foundation.

Amy D.

I love my process and never gave it much thought. I wrote the bones of my first manuscript swimming 2000 yards daily. I also find I am more creative when I meditate 20 minutes daily. I feel like I am learning SO much AND you are giving me nuts and bolts that I can easily apply. It will be interesting for me to compare my post Masterclass Dan Brown manuscript with my pre Masterclass manuscript. You are a great novelist AND a great teacher.

Meg N.

Another great chapter! The idea of stopping to do push-ups made me smile, one of the most physically fit men I knew at one point was a translator who used that regimen, there seems to be a lot in common in work habits between translation and writing. It would be wonderful if I can make the shift from translation to writing (shifting in the other direction is much more common). Dan Brown's suggestions on working hours I will need to modify to fit my need to have a rather irregular assortment of "day jobs", however. I must be totally self-supporting ongoing. Until recently this caused major panic to set in, which is worse than writer's block. This year I have a very small cushion going forward due to a decision to do any work at hand just to break through that panic. I hope to use that to get my writing moving forward properly... and as this chapter outlines, "protect the process"..