Answers to the Eleven Big ‘I’m Quitting Teaching’ Questions

Think of this as the "I'm Quitting Teaching" FAQ

Think of this as the "I'm Quitting Teaching" FAQ

I was overwhelmed by the number of responses to my 51st birthday post and the announcement I made about quitting teaching. In those responses, I ran across ten questions that needed a response everyone could read, and I realized there was one question no one had asked, but that desperately needed an answer.

So I’ve answered these BIG questions below.

THE ANSWER TO THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION NO ONE ASKED:

What can I do as a student or graduate of one of your big courses (HTTS, HTRYN, HTWAS) do to make sure I don’t get left behind during the upcoming transitions?

Log into your account for EACH course in which you’re a student, go into your Profile on your student page, and do the following:

  • Make sure your e-mail address is correct and that it’s an address you check regularly,
  • Make sure it is exactly the same e-mail address in each course you’re taking (so you don’t get locked out of the forum)
  • Scroll all the way to the bottom of your profile, and make SURE you have checked the box beside Receive Critical Updates.

If you are not getting critical updates, you stand a HUGE chance of missing the announcements that will move you from the existing course platform to the new one, and if you miss the move, you’ll lose your downloads and access to the forum.  I’ll give plenty of warning, but there are a huge number of students who are NOT subscribed to critical updates, who don’t visit the forum regularly, and who, having graduated, don’t visit their student pages often.

So if you’re a grad or an existing student, do this now, before you forget.

(These links are for existing students only.  They are not registration pages for new students.)

If you don’t remember your login information, please create a support ticket at http://novelwritingschool.com/support and ask me to help you.

QUESTION ONE:

I’m a graduate or a current student in one or more of the following courses:

  • How to Think Sideways
  • How To Revise Your Novel
  • How to Write a Series (stand-alone version)

Will my lessons and extras continue to be available when you lock the course to new students, or do I need to download everything now?

All your materials will remain available, AND you’ll continue to be a full, permanent member of the Boot Camp Writers’ Community on all your course boards.

QUESTION TWO:

I’ve purchased one or more courses from Shop.HollyLisle.com.  Will those continue to be available for re-download after you close the shop permanently?

No.  If you have all your copies intact, burn them to a backup disk now.  If your hard drive has eaten courses you’ve purchased and you need to get backups before I close the shop, log into your account at http://Shop.HollyLisle.com (the login is in the top left corner) and re-download whatever you’re missing.  Burn your copies to a backup disk.

When I close the shop, ALL my smaller courses will be available on Kindle, Nook and iTunes, or as print books on Amazon.com and elsewhere.  However, if you lose your existing copies, you will have to re-buy them, because my old database will not have any connection with the big platforms, and I won’t be able to issue free copies.

If you have lost your account login information, create a support ticket at: http://novelwritingschool.com/support and ask me to help you get back into your HollyShop account.

QUESTION THREE:

J.A. Konrath is just now opening his writing shop.  Why are you closing yours?

Because everything that involves the exchange of money on my site ALSO involves doing customer service.  I do my own because I want it done the way I want it done, I’m a perfectionist and a big pain in the ass in making sure my people (customers AND employees) are treated right, and it was my horrified experience that when I hired someone to cover some of my customer service for me, people knew they weren’t dealing with me, and regularly treated my helper like shit.

When people treat ME like shit, I politely help them get their problem solved, then request that they don’t buy anything else from me.  My helper couldn’t do that.  I refuse to subject anyone else to the sort of abuse my helper took on my behalf, however.

I ALSO refuse to use a third-party customer service option, though, because my own experiences as a customer with those options have been awful.  So I handle all problems myself.  And even though I rarely receive abusive treatment from a customer, when I do, it screws up my day.

And doing customer service, even when working with the kind and understanding folks I usually deal with, is exhausting, time-consuming, and it draws focus from my ability to create.

So I’m moving EVERYTHING that involves the exchange of money to sites that will not only collect the money for the courses I create and then send it to me, but that will do customer service on what they sell.

It’s worth it to me to have my students get my courses from platforms that are dedicated to making everything work right on every sale, every time—and I’m willing to pay the 30-ish% fee to sell on those sites to have that happen.

If J.A. Konrath is doing his own customer service, I wish him luck—it’s going to bite his writing time.  If he’s hired a friend or fan to do it for him, I wish his helper luck—many customers will not treat his helper with the kindness or respect they’d use in dealing with him personally.  If he’s farming customer service out to some third-party customer service solution, I wish his customers luck.  I have found NO happy solution to customer service, but third-party is the worst solution.

QUESTION FOUR:

(The four-week version of) How to Write a Series is the bonus gift for How To Revise Your Novel.  Will Revise Your Novel students be able to get the upgrades to the full, stand-alone version of How to Write A Series?  Or is there a discount for HTRYN students to move to the full version?

The four-week version is a solid course in its own right, and a good freebie for How To Revise Your Novel.  But ONLY students of the full stand-alone version will receive the updates and the extended version.

There’s a discount for both HTRYN and HTTS students and grads.  I’m not sure if I have it posted in the HTRYN course yet (I thought I did), but if I don’t, I’ll make sure to make the discount for upgrading to the stand-alone version available in the next couple of weeks.

QUESTION FIVE:

I’ve been saving money for one of your big courses, but I haven’t saved up enough yet.

If I can’t join the course before you close the doors, is that course just gone forever?

NO! ALL of my courses will continue to be available somewhere and in some form.

(When I said I’m not abandoning my students, I include FUTURE students in that statement.)

A LOT of folks missed this.

How To Think Sideways, How To Revise Your Novel, and How To Write A Series are going to be available for Kindle, Nook, iPad (if I can work out some problematic linking issues) and where possible, as print versions.

Let me go into a bit more detail on this:

  • If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get the free Kindle app for your computer and get your lessons that way.
  • If you don’t have a computer, you can get the Kindle app for your iPhone or Android phone, and get the lessons THAT way.
  • If you just hate Amazon, you can get the NOOK app, and get your lessons THAT way.
  • And at least for How to Think Sideways and How to Revise Your Novel, you’ll be able to buy lessons in print, though because of paper and printing, these will be more expensive than the e-versions.  (And because the courses run about 250,000 words, and 150,000 words respectively, not including handouts, you’re committing to some serious shelf space.)
  • How to Write A Series, because of its format, may only be available as individual lesson DVDs.

Each lesson will be available separately, (meaning that students can buy them as you can afford them and take them at your own pace) and will include both:

  • A link for free worksheet and handout downloads, and…
  • A sign-up link for the Boot Camp Writers’ Community for either a small monthly fee, or a one-time permanent membership.

QUESTION SIX:

Will you be finishing any of the other courses you’ve discussed or surveyed for or said you’d like to create?

No. I’ve had hundreds of course ideas.  They’re scattered across my hard drive like a giant guilty conscience, and I’ll be deleting the ideas as I trip over them.

I want my fiction.  I want clarity, and breathing room, and to pursue the stories that are scattered in bits and pieces across my hard drive like a garden full of flowers waiting to bloom.

I’ll refine my existing courses and transfer them to the big platforms.  I’ll finish Create A World Clinic because only about seven zillion people have asked me to, and it really is SUCH a cool series of techniques.

And that’s it.

Me.  Novels.  Short story collections.  A couple of truly weird fiction ideas agents and editors kept shooting down that I’ll now do.  That’s my future.

QUESTION SEVEN:

Has Cadence [Drake] ever done anything like this [complete priority shift]?

I laughed when I read this…but then realization slammed me across the nose.

In what is currently Chapter Four of the first draft of Cadence Drake 2: Warpaint, written a few days BEFORE I made this decision, Cady does exactly this.

Exactly.

And now I’m giving my Muse, my subconscious mind, a fishy eye and muttering, “Okay, so when did you know I was going to make this change, you sneaky bastid?”

QUESTION EIGHT:

When is How to Write a Series available?  And is it really that much different from How to Think Sideways?

Okay.  Let me just do the existing course rundown here.

All three courses, How to Think Sideways, How to Revise Your Novel, and How to Write a Series, are stand-alone courses.

Each covers its own subject matter, its own techniques, and its own objectives.

How to Think Sideways is my course on how to have the ideas, use them, and create the stories from them that will allow you to write novels (or screenplays, or short stories, or whatever form of fiction floats your boat) for the rest of your life.

How to Revise Your Novel is my course on how to get the book you want from whatever wreck your first draft turned into in ONE revision, and make it the book you dreamed it would be, so you can move on to writing your next book.

And How to Write A Series is how to create the characters and the stories that will allow you to write exactly the series you envision, in exactly the number of books you desire, and have each book be stronger and more compelling than the one before it—and how to end it how you want it and still thrill your readers.

There’s some unavoidable crossover in a couple of very basic writing techniques, but the main course subject matter does not overlap.

My rule on courses has always been that no one will ever by a course from me, buy another course, and find that he or she has just paid for the same damn information, written in different words.  I’ve bought those recycled crap courses from other people, they pissed me off, and I swore I would never treat people that way.

That goes for my little courses as well as my big ones.  If you want the details on how to create a character, for example, the ONLY place you’ll find those details is in Create A Character Clinic.

And finally, ALL my courses except for the upcoming Create A World Clinic are already available.

QUESTION NINE:

Will all the writing stuff on your website still be available?

Of course!  Do you know how many years I’ve been adding to that stuff?  There are articles in the writing section that were actually print articles I did for the little writers’ group newsletter I used to send out back when I was still in Schrodinger’s Petshop, before anyone but scientists had even heard of the internet.  1989-1990…somewhere around there.

I’ll still add the occasional writing article to the site as I feel like it.  I know me, and sooner or later I’ll have something new to say about writing, and I won’t be able to keep it to myself.

The writing newsletter now has 52 articles in it.  One full year of once-a-week tips.  It will remain a free resource on the site, and again, if I get froggy, I may add to it.  Even if I don’t add new tips, if you stay on it, I’ll make sure to send you links to any new articles I write.

QUESTION TEN:

You’re not still using Word, are you?!?!

Oh, God, no!  Not for years.  I use Scrivener and Pages, and I have Open Office on my computers but have to confess OO is really only there so when I’m talking to the Windows crowd, I can offer something that I know works.

I just checked, and discovered that I don’t actually have any Microsoft stuff on my computers anymore.  Lot of Adobe, lot of indie stuff.

Not sure when the last of Microsoft went away, but I think it’s kind of telling that I didn’t notice is was gone until today.

WHAT DID I MISS?

These were the ten big questions I found, plus the one nobody asked.  But over the next few days, I’ll check in here as I can and answer as much of what I missed as I can.

And thank you, thank you, thank you.

I had tears in my eyes reading your responses to my 51st birthday post.  I have always maintained that it has been my privilege to hang out with the best people on the internet, and that was proven again with your replies to my post.

But now, ONWARD!

We’re going to have some fun, and we’re going to create wonderful things.  Today, tomorrow, for the rest of our lives.

 

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.


96 comments… add one
  • Keshawn Oct 17, 2011 @ 17:24

    Big help, big help. And superltiave news of course.

  • Gerhi Feuren Oct 17, 2011 @ 11:14

    Holly,

    I get it and I respect it. Go write some damn good stories.

    Thanks for everything you’ve taught me.

  • Knicky Oct 15, 2011 @ 14:40

    Sorry I’m so late in responding to your Birthday announcement. As others have said, by the time I finished reading the long list of that first and this post, the emotions are literally running. First – Happy Birthday! Devoting more time to your own writing is the best present to give yourself. I’m a student of a couple big courses of yours, plus some short ones. So much information is packed into them. I’m glad to know all the articles on your site will remain in place. I have learned SO much from you. As someone said previous, I think of you as my Mentor. Holly, you are very loving, generous and giving to your writers. For just a sampling: taking care of us in many ways, such as your determination to make whatever is wrong right, answering questions, helping with anything asked of you, including all the support you give us. I wish you the very best in all areas of your life. I can’t wait for Cady2 to be published. Lastly, I just want to give you the most humongous Thank You! hug. Finding you and your website was the catalyst for me to return to my love of writing (which I let life circumstances interfere with.) Again – Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

  • Cat Oct 12, 2011 @ 20:08

    Hi Holly

    I understand why you are doing what you are doing and I applaud you for it!!

    My question is; “Is there a complete list somewhere that has all your courses/lessons; the long ones, the short ones, the free ones and the bonus ones that people get for signing up to a list or something?” I want to make sure I don’t miss anything, I’m one of those people who have been saving towards purchases and I want to be able to make a priority list of what to purchase first – and what I can leave to buy from the’big platforms’. Plus I want to make sure I’ve download any of the free and/or bonus courses/lessons I may have missed :-).

    Thanks for the way you have made the writing process so clear, it has really helped me!

    Cheers

    Cat

  • Gissel Oct 12, 2011 @ 17:05

    I was just wondering, (forgive me if I skipped this as I read the article) If I were to purchase the courses from iTunes they would just remain in my iTunes account/ iTunes player correct?
    I can’t believe how late I found your courses that now you are stopping them. However, I plan on using the bit that I have learned from you as much as I can. Thank you for helping me be a bit more motivated. Also, I will most certainly create a world I can be proud of and my story will be able to make sense to me again, so for that thank you Holly!
    Have fun with your writing, and if you have a book tour I really hope you go to P.A., N.J., or even C.T.!
    Best of luck always

  • Gissel Oct 12, 2011 @ 17:04

    I was just wondering, (forgive me if I skipped this as I read the article) If I were to purchase the courses from iTunes they would just remain in my iTunes account/ iTunes player correct?
    I can’t believe how late I found your courses that now you are stopping them. However, I plan on using the bit that I have learned from you as much as I can. Thank you for helping me be a bit more motivated. Also, I will most certainly create a world I can be proud of and my story will be able to make sense to me again, so for that thank you Holly!
    Have fun with your writing, and if you have a book tour I really hope you go to P.A., N.J., or even C.T.!

  • Raven Oct 12, 2011 @ 13:52

    Happy birthday!

    I keep trying to write this, and I keep having troubles.

    I started becoming a serious writer in 2004 because, after I discovered NaNoWriMo, it wasn’t long before I discovered Forward Motion. Forward Motion was my key to taking my writing seriously. NaNo helped, but if it hadn’t been for Forward Motion, I would have treated my NaNo novels as fluff, not worth anything, and I wouldn’t have begun to try writing at other times. Or maybe I would have found another site or another organization that played the same role . . . maybe it would have been this new site of yours.

    I’m digressing. When I got to Forward Motion, you were long gone. But there was a link to a page called “Thanks to Holly Lisle” and from that page, there was (but alas, no longer) a link to your explanation of leaving. I will never forget it. I don’t remember all the words, but I remember that you were going alone with a sword to look for water. It hit me, right in the heart. I knew it was right, I knew it was what I wanted to do, too. After reading, I picked up my own sword, went on my own search for water.

    I haven’t found it yet, but I’m still searching.

    The point of the back story is that when I originally got your e-mail that said you were quitting teaching, I thought “What? Why?” But as I read what you were writing, I could feel the heartbeats between the words, the ones that talked of swords and water. And I thought, “Of course. Why didn’t I see this sooner? Of course it’s time.”

    And once again, you are giving the legacy of a new community, a new garden of writers. Go write.

    • Holly Oct 13, 2011 @ 11:07

      The page is still available. I didn’t give Zette a heads up when I changed the site, though, and it looks like it got lost along with a few others when I was doing the new menus.

      It’s here: https://hollylisle.com/the-future-of-the-forward-motion-writers-community/

      Believe it or not, I’m still not done with this friggin’ website—there are a bunch of pages I haven’t had time yet to track down and get into the sidebar menus.

      But that’s something to amuse me when I’m only working on the latest novel, not now while I’m buried in courses and suffering migraines again.

  • Paul Oct 12, 2011 @ 13:24

    Hi Holly,

    Im so sad you are not going to be on call.

    I live in Africa and i have spent four years reading your articles. I have written a book as a result of that.

    I recently opened a paypal account and i am now ready to purchase all i can. I also want to join your “How to think sideways” lessons.

    I feel so bad because now i can afford to buy your books, and courses, yet this is the time you wont be teaching. Please dont go, we need you.

    Are you able to confirm when your shop will close. I want to by more of your products before then.

    with kind regards,

    Paul

  • Tyra Oct 12, 2011 @ 10:31

    Dear Holly,
    I just wanted to thank you for answering those questions, your answers were very helpful. I also wanted to thank you for all the effort you have put forth into helping aspiring writers along, whether its through your weekly writing tips, your blog archives, or even your amazing courses. All of those things have helped me in more ways than you know, and have breathed life and inspiration into my writing when I was discouraged, or stumped, or stuck. It also helped remind me time and again that writing is to be a joy, and because of the assistance you’ve given ans the skills you’ve imparted, it IS a joy, because I spend more time writing instead of being confused and frustrated!
    And though it makes me a bit sad that you are stepping down from your role as a teacher, I also know it is a wonderful thing because you will have more time to do the things you truly enjoy -including writing! Thanks again!

    Sincerely,
    Tyra

  • Hanna Oct 12, 2011 @ 9:59

    Oops, in all the hub-bub, I also forgot to wish you Happy Birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    Mine was just a few weeks ago so perhaps we share a zodiac sign.

    Reading your responses I realize, and please correct me if I am wrong, you are going to stop teaching but not stop communicating and/or posting. Excellent. The comraderie will feed you and those who follow you, but you can step away.

    I am glad to see WABWM will survive, in some fashion. I understand, no commitments, just a possibility when the dust settles.

  • Jesy Oct 12, 2011 @ 9:00

    If everything you wrote is true, about your work weeks and vacation times. Then all I have to say is it’s about time you figure out there’s more to life than just working. Glad to hear that you are finding there is more to life than the community you built yourself and the work you assigned yourself. And I totally get it when it comes to finding good help. Eesh. Customer service… more like customer screwyou’s if you don’t do it yourself. But I’ll leave that one alone!

    Your comments today and your answers brought up a question that I have been needing to ask someone knowledgeable. You wrote that you were in a writer’s group. I am also, or I was. The group I am in details two writers every other week, the writings are large and we get together and critique them. On one hand I know it makes me want to be a better writer and for that I believe the group is a good thing. On the other hand I feel myself getting sucked into their stories and find myself not writing my own. Which is not a good thing. Turns out I ended up being what others consider a great critique so more and more were sending me their work to see what I thought and find the errors I tend to catch. Something I found myself enjoying, but again, I am not getting any of my own work accomplished.

    I find myself so sucked up into everyone else’s work that I cannot transition easily back into my work that carries a lot of emotion for me. I’m writing it as fiction but it’s my real story and the memories are not easy to open up as it is.

    What do you suggest? Stay in the group, leave the group? I have taken a 2 month break and haven’t gotten back into writing my book as of yet. Though I have written many short stories and for one friend I might read a book and then write her several chapters of what would come next…. It’s fun to try to match the writer and continue their story in a plausible way. But that’s only for fun and only one friend gets to read that kind of work. I mean it as no disrespect but more as an exercise into not getting pigeonholed into any one way of writing. In other words, it’s how I practice when nothing else is coming to mind.

    What do you think about writer’s groups and do you think most should continue going even if they stop one from writing for awhile?
    Thanks. Oh and… vacations are for time OFF.. not to be checking in on things. With owning our own business we had to learn that lesson ourselves. Rest, rejuvenate and write! Thanks for your writing tips in email form..

    • Holly Oct 12, 2011 @ 9:33

      At the point where the group impedes your writing, you leave the group, or attend less frequently.

      The whole POINT of attending a writing group is to get your work running—and at heart, writing remains a solitary occupation. The writer can exist exclusively alone. The writer cannot exist exclusively as a segment of a group.

  • WandersNowhere Oct 12, 2011 @ 6:49

    Happy birthday, Holly.

    It took me a while to get around to posting, collecting my thoughts on this big change; you’ve had such an enormous impact on my writing life through your site, your courses and your work that I admit to being pretty devastated that you were quitting – you’re hands down the best writing teacher I’ve ever had and it’s been a privilege to be your student, face to face or not.

    But I wouldn’t be able to call myself a writer if I didn’t understand that deep driving need to create living breathing worlds and people out of your own imagination, that transcends everything else when it takes us. “Do what you love, and love what you do.” Thank you for taking the time out from your writing to give the rest of us a helping hand up our respective mountains, and may the road ahead bring you joy and success. Having paid it forward (and then some) you sure deserve some of that good karma to come back around! And we’re all looking forward to the stories to come with bated breath.

    I somehow missed that the HTWAS we were getting as part of HTRYN wasn’t the full deal, so I’ll be signing up for the full version as soon as there’s a working link. ^^ Will always treasure these materials and tools you’ve given us.

    Best wishes, and probably the most heartfelt thing I can say is “I’m looking forward to the day you can read my books.”

  • FireStorm Oct 12, 2011 @ 6:31

    Holly, first, ‘thank you’ — thank you for being an inspiration, and providing knowledge and the occasionally proverbial ‘kick in the seat’…

    Second, I look forward to enjoying a walk with you and your Muse down the paths of future worlds! You’ve been my hero since I met you in NC, way back in the 90s, when you were still writing and nursing, and you’re still a hero to me today, and possibly one of the bravest, strongest people I know. Happy Imagining, Holly!

  • Pat Oct 12, 2011 @ 5:42

    Happy birthday, Holly, and best wishes to you as you take your next step. I will be forever grateful for what you’ve done, both in creating FM and all your classes. I’ve just clawed my way to the point where I feel confident enough to pitch my first novel, and I feel I owe a great deal of it to those strong words about being a Victim and Perfect. 😉

    Thank you.

  • GillyGx Oct 12, 2011 @ 5:19

    Yay! Stick your tongue out and blow a raspberry to MS!! Isn’t it great that we have software available to us like Scivener and Page and we aren’t forced to use Word any more?! I was surprised when I read it but to hear you gave it the boot years ago make so much sense.

    Good luck Holly. Thank you for all your wisdom.

  • Ian Oct 12, 2011 @ 4:47

    Happy birthday from another Libran, Holly. May your new path bring joyous things. Thank you for what you have taught me and for the inspiration you have given us all. Perhaps in future, like the trails made by the migration herds in Africa, the tracks of your students and readers will again cross the ones you make from now on. Write with joy!

  • Patti Oct 12, 2011 @ 4:04

    Congratulations on making the difficult decision to follow your heart. And thanks heaps and bunches for all you’ve done to help the writing community–and me. And thanks also for continuing to make your big courses available via Kindle & Nook. I said a prayer for you and for your son. I wish you increasing success and I hope healing will come to your son. Blessings.

  • Ruth Ellen Parlour Oct 12, 2011 @ 3:37

    Hi!

    There isn’t a box for receive critical updates on my HTWAS profile, there’s receive newsletters but nothing else no where on the page. Is it just me?

    Thanks!

    • Holly Oct 12, 2011 @ 7:24

      Sorry about that. It isn’t just you. Margaret modified the HTTS and HTRYN software so the newsletter box explained this was the critical system updates box.

      In HTWAS, we’re still using the software in its raw, direct-from-the-programmers format (warts and all), and one of the warts is that the critical updates box just says “newsletter.”

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