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

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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.

By far and away, the best Masterclass I have taken. Dan Brown was thoughtful, passionate and organized in each lesson. He shared with us a ton of information to process and one can see what a gifted teacher his father must have been because Dan is as well. This class can help any writer regardless of their genre. I intend to return to this class time and time again. Thank you!!

Love Dan's style of writing, and will use many of his page turning ideas in building my manuscripts.

I am a screenwriter and I watched this because a lot of what screenwriting is, is transposing books into scripts. I wanted to get the perspective of a novelist on their process so I can best honor that when asked to turn that story into a screenplay. So thank you for this Dan, I learned a ton!

I had already studied and analyzed many of Dan's books to discern what he was doing and how. They have been my standard: If Dan Brown does something or does it a certain way, then that's a good way for me to. To hear him now talk through those tricks of the trade is invaluable. Extraordinary class from the master. Thanks, Dan.


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"..

Daniel H.

I am thoroughly enjoying this class. I think every one has their own, "process,, though. I find it difficult to write when not at my desk in my study at home. I find it less distracting and much more comfortable to think. I wouldn't mind having a study like Mr. Brown's. Dare to dream.

B. A. (Barbara) M.

If you haven't read Stephen King's On Writing, do so. It's a great book which gives a look at his process and has wonderful advice for writers. Each person needs to formulate a writing process which works for them and their life. If you only have two hours late at night, then use it. Remember: 90% of the failures in life have the habit of making excuses- George Washington Caever