My Mistake, Your Gain–A Fun Drawing for 10 Free Memberships

My newsletter introducing the workshop I’m teaching for [LINK CORRECTED] started like this:


In the midst of my current insane seventy-hour-a-week work schedule, I got this crazy question.

It was “How would you like to do a free writing workshop for our

Now, in most cases, the answer to the question “How would you like to add about 70 to 100 more hours to your workload and not get paid for it?” would be “Not very much!”

In this case, though, I found two reasons that made me say yes…

And on my writing diary while making the same announcement, I said:


I’m not an affiliate of I’m not making a dime from the workshop, nor will I receive any payment for recommending the site.

I’m doing this because I think it will be fun, and interesting, and challenging, and because it will let me meet some new folks.

And then Sharon, my primary liaison for the workshop, sent me a happy e-mail about how many people had signed up (231 the last I heard), and she told me I’d be getting some money.

To which I said, “I honestly didn’t know I was supposed to get any sort of compensation. The long e-mail I sent out and my blog post both made it clear that I WASN’T being compensated.

“So as nice as the money would be, I’ll have to turn it down. Use it for something cool. :D”

Her idea of cool was, why don’t I give it to ten of you as paid memberships for one year to

And I agreed that would be pretty cool.



If you’d like to win a year’s membership to, just post here. Let me know the MOST USEFUL THING you’ve learned from my website, this weblog, or any of my courses.

That’s it. If you do that, you’re eligible in the drawing.

I’ll do the drawings NEXT WEDNESDAY (FEBRUARY 24th), which will give folks a LITTLE time to reply, and winners enough time to attend some of the workshops this year.

I’ll announce the winners on this writing diary.

[A NOTE: I am reading these entries. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM. If you attempt to use this contest to claim that I recommended a product I have never even heard of, I will delete your entry and block you from the site. I don’t tolerate spam. I have deleted one entry so far.]

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444 responses to “My Mistake, Your Gain–A Fun Drawing for 10 Free Memberships”

  1. Jeannie Furlong Avatar
    Jeannie Furlong

    Hey there …if you haven’t gotten on this bandwagon…what’s the delay? Momentum!!! that’s by far the most valuable lesson that Holly taught me to embrace plus locked into my habits! If you don’t get the words on paper there’s nothing to critique…nothing to send to the agent/editor….and how could you even claim to ‘write”? or call yourself an author? A counterfeit is what I would be had not Holly kept me motivated throughout these lessons? Without momentum to roll right through those tight spots, and times you were a victim of writer’s block, I’d never made it.

  2. Holly Avatar

    Prizes have now been awarded.

  3. Monica Avatar

    I think the most useful thing I’ve learned from you is that there is now right way to write. I remember when I started taking writing more seriously than just a hobby I did from time to time when ‘inspiration struck’, that I spent a lot of time researching articles on character, plot, structure, you name it. And specially on outlines, and the process of going from an abstract idea to a completed first draft. I came across so many ways of doing things and I tried them all, and none of them worked very well. But you taught me that there is no “right way”, that writing is an organic process and that everyone is different, and that’s the beauty of it. Now, I don’t worry too much about ‘methods’ and just do what feels right for me, and I believe so much more in what I do, and how I do it. I thank for that.

    Also it’s worth mentioning that I think “Write A Book With Me” is a great idea, and has helped me motivate myself to write on days when I was tired, bored or emotionally exhausted and after a long day at work I only wanted to lay on the sofa and watch Tv. I made myself sit and write for a little while, just a hundred words and I could rest if I still wanted, and everytime I founf myself wanting to continue, the exhaustion and weariness leaving me. I was having too much fun to just stop at 100 words. So, thank you for that too.

  4. Caitlyn Avatar

    I’ve learned so much from you. Thanks you your website and courses I’ve actually been able to make progress on the million and one story ideas floating through my head!

    I actually never really understood the whole concept of “write what you know” or “use your own experiences” until I read your articles. I never thought that someone with a life as mudane as mine could use their life as a inspriation or fuel for a fiction novel. I used to scoff at my teachers when they would utter “you cant write what you dont know.” and now I understand.

    More importantly, you’ve taught me that I have to accept failure. I have to accept that not every idea is going to be usable but that’s not a bad thing! You’ve taught me that the first manuscript I write will not be published! I wont be big like J.K Rowling right off the bat if ever. And I’m okay with that.

    Thank you for everything,


  5. Anna Avatar

    Most important thing I learned was to keep giving my characters problems, problems and more problems! And to remember to tie up all loose ends so the reader is satisfied with the resolution at the end. Thank you!

  6. dancingcrane Avatar

    The most useful thing for me, which underpins everything you could ever teach me, was from ‘How to Find Your Writing Discipline’.

    It doesn’t matter what else is going on in my life – kids, extended family, obligations, car repairs, illnesses – I can still find the time, I can still _make_ the time, to bring my creations to life. I don’t ever have to let anything stop me.

    Thanks! After longing for great uninterrupted swathes of time, I realise that I don’t need them. Internalizing that, was by itself worth the price of the book.

  7. foxbrains Avatar

    I found this website at a time when I needed some reassurances that life didnt completely suck, and that it might be worth going on for another day or two. I had been spending a lot of time writing very angry things and not getting any kind of release. I was at the end of my rope. I was ready to just give up on life. somehow I stumbled onto teh website and read the Articel “Live to write another day.” I saw it as the plea that it was to find the strength to write another day. It is still often a daily struggle to survive from day to day, but the blog entries, the articles evertything I have learned have made it a little bit easier.

    I am learning to just write another day.

    Thanks Holly. You just might have saved my life.

  8. Wulfie Avatar

    Hi! I’m pretty new around here and haven’t taken any courses but I sure would like to. I get the Writer’s Tips and they’ve helped already. I’ve read through your offerings and like the way that you’re blunt and to the point and obviously passionate about writing. I wouldn’t want to learn from someone who isn’t into writing; they wouldn’t ‘get it’.

    The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that writing is something I can’t live without and I’m not nuts to feel that way. It’s the center of me; the priimary way that I interface with the world around me. It’s something that will always be part of my life because it’s my passion and I need and want to hone my skills. We can always become better writers…there’s constant progression. Way cool.

  9. Melissa Avatar

    Like many of the other people posting, I’d be hard pressed to pick just one useful writing thing I’ve learned from you, Holly. Instead I will focus on a life thing and that is to never give up on something you love doing and always find ways to give back to others. 🙂

  10. Zoe Avatar

    You mean I have to pick just one?? I’ve learned so much from your courses and articles.. but if I have to pick one thing, I’d say it’s how to structure stories and individual scenes. That’s one of the things I’ve always had a lot of trouble with, but after going through Think Sideways and the first part of HTRYN, I have a much better handle on it than I did before.

  11. DonnaJ Avatar

    My pick would have to be the importance of Questions, and not just that we should be asking them, but HOW to form Questions to get the answers you need.

  12. Lisa Smith Avatar
    Lisa Smith

    I really appreciate all you do for aspiring writers, in the midst of your own overwhelming schedule. That has encouraged me in my own crazy life of trying to write and have a life besides. One thing I learned from you was to ask questions of your characters to understand them better, and to just keep writing even though you may not feel like it. Okay, I guess that’s two things….
    Thanks for it all,

  13. cheryl m kaplan Avatar
    cheryl m kaplan

    I’m too am short on money and haven’t been able to take any of your classes. Hope this year will I’ll be able to sign up for some of your offerings. You’re notes are interesting to read, and you’re quite enthusiastic about the craft.
    Cheryl in NJ, USA

  14. Brian Mann Avatar
    Brian Mann

    I learned that everything in fiction revolves around conflict. If there’s no conflict, there’s no story.

  15. Jessica Stevens Avatar
    Jessica Stevens

    Being on a REALLY tight budget I have not had the money to sign up for any of the classes as of yet, but for the past few months that I have subscribed to your newsletter I have gained enough tips and inspiration to go back to my stories. My main book I started over ten years ago and have not been able to work out what to do with, now I have a start. Thank you for that. Trying to rework and revise that monster has been a daunting experience but now I have the courage to do it. That is what your website and newsletter has done for me 🙂 , maybe my book will actually live instead of moldering on my hard drive.

  16. A Mom's Choice Avatar

    I cannot really pick just one thing that I love about your site. One of my favorite things is the emails that you send to subscriber. They are always full of a lot of great tips for writers and a bit of humor thrown in to bring a smile to your face.

  17. Texanne Avatar

    So very much. The biggest thing I’ve learned from you is that there is nothing wrong with cheerful determination, resilience, whatever you want to call it, in the face of whatever Hell is serving. Having read your blogs and taken your courses, the overarching theme I get is just to keep at it. Get a bit smarter every day, and keep at it.

  18. Lea Avatar

    While pretty much everything you’ve given to me shows up in my work in some shape or form, my favorite tool is asking why, in order to get more detail. My friends who like to write, and I, have made it a game. Whenever we’re out together, we’ll sit down and look around, and one of us will ask, such as: “All the shops on this block except for one are green, why?” Then the other one will answer it, sometimes with a serious answer, sometimes with a creative and funny answer. I have gotten so many great ideas from it, and my stories are blooming, thanks to you.


    1. Holly Avatar

      Man, that sounds like fun. Congrats on your friends, too. It’s hard to find friends who would see the wonder in spending an evening that way.

  19. Bruce Avatar

    Dear Holly,

    The most and best thing I learned from you e-mails is you generosity. For an author who is busy, you are always in a teaching mode, wanting to give back and help those climbing up. I like that, that’s the way I am in my day job, always teaching. No, I’m not a teacher. And someday, if I every get published, I hope to give, instruct others, and show them the way.


  20. Sara Avatar

    Just learnt something very important. NEVER LET THE PEOPLE FROM OUTSIDE DICTATE WHAT YOU WRITE!

  21. Meghan Avatar

    I’d have to say the most useful thiing I’ve learned so far was how to really get into my character’s shoes. In one of your email tips you explain how we need to really get a feel for our characters by visualizing them and then acting like we *are* them. It wasn’t easy, but I feel like I can learn a lot more about my characters by doing this and help my writing become more realistic. Thanks Holly!

  22. Mel Avatar

    I love that through your emails, I have learnt how to really make my characters real. Thank you, but i have learnt more than that too.

  23. Lauren Avatar

    The thing I’ve learned most is from your Plot Clinic that said, something to the effect of writing is akin to dancing naked in public for strangers. You have to expose yourself in order for the writing to be any good and have life.

    Now whenever I worry about what someone might think of my work, I remember that quote and keep on going.

    The techniques have been extremely useful too, for brainstorming asking the right questions and poking and prodding the muse, but that one there really helped me see what it was like.

    1. megan Avatar

      lol, <<>>>I loved that one too, but had forgotten,

  24. Rachel Avatar

    Holly, I have gained so much from reading your articles, blogs, and receiving your emails. One of the most important lessons for me has been learning the definition of a scene. I remember my first attempt at a novel with long, debating dialogues, and tedious frame-by-frame action sequences. After reading your workshop on scenes, I learned that a scene should always advance the plot of your story. This useful tidbit has guided me through the rough waters of being an aspiring novelist. Thank you!

  25. Ann-Kat (Today, I Wrote...) Avatar

    I have no idea where to begin, your sites and blog are brimming with useful information–not to mention plenty of entertainment. But, revision. How to add conflict and tension to a scene. (Oh, and jump-starting the creative juices.)

  26. Jen Sights Avatar

    I’ve learned how to edit my novel from your one-round revision page on your website. I’ve also learned never to give up, and how to stick with my dream to (one day) be successful at it!

  27. megan Avatar

    Hi Holly,
    like previous comments, I am having trouble limiting myself to just one, but that was what you asked for so here goes: just last night, I FINALLY got to the ‘asking the right questions’ , having curiosity, or ar least the tight kind of curiosity and voiila! I furiously penned several pages of Qs & As for a new idea. I feel more confident than I have been feeling lately of being able to transfer this idea into plot cards and a story.
    Thanks once again

  28. Leslie White Avatar
    Leslie White

    As I do each lesson in the How to Revise Your Novel class, I’m amazed at how simple but profound these elements are, and I know I’ll be able to incorporate many of them into my next novel, as I’m writing it!

  29. Cathy Campbell Avatar
    Cathy Campbell

    Holly I can’t list just one, will three do?
    1. Conflict, Action, Twist
    2. Unblocking the muse from HTBWB
    3. The Dot and the Line

  30. Janae Yorgason Avatar
    Janae Yorgason

    Your emails are totally inspiring. They keep me writing and help keep me from giving up. There have been many times I have wanted to give up on writing, believing that I had absolutely no talent. While a part of me still believes this, getting your emails has taught me that talents don’t always just exist. A good portion of the time they are learned. And I want to learn to write. I want to get this story down on paper that I’ve had in my head for the last several years. Thanks for all you do, whether I win the contest or not. I really appreciate it.

  31. Gina Leigh Maxwell Avatar

    To never give up on myself or my dream to become a writer. 🙂 Thank you.

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