Protect the process and the work will take care of itself.

Dan Brown

About a month ago I decided to purchase the year subscription to MasterClass content after getting bombarded with their limited buy one, get one free promotion. Back in 2017 when MasterClass was newer with fewer course offerings, I had asked for James Patterson’s class on creative writing for my birthday. I was generally pleased with the content and learned some stuff that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Back then you could only buy access to one class at a time, but now they’ve figured out a subscription model where you can gain access to their entire catalogue, which by now is robust.

If you’ve ever seen a MasterClass advertisement, you know that almost everyone teaching a class is at the top of his/her field. Since I now have access to all the courses, I’ve bounced around and watched classes by David Sedaris, Dan Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, Judd Apatow, and Annie Leibovitz. While all these people undoubtedly have a lot to teach a novice, some courses were better than others, and at least some of them appear to have forgotten what it’s like to start at ground zero. It’s as though some have been doing their craft for so long and are so good at what they do, they no longer know how exactly they do it and could not offer much specific or helpful advice.

But, the consistent thread among all the teachings is the need for a process. David Sedaris talks about observing people and keeping a journal. Annie Leibovitz talks about setting rules around the time of day she shoots and how many lights she uses. Dan Brown wakes up at 4am every day to write and fills paragraphs with Xs when he can’t conjure up the prose for a scene. Process is personal.

In my reading about what people say about the creative process, success lies in the regular and consistent showing up, every day, to do your thing via a process. And this does not just apply to writing or photography. Improving in the art of leadership, for example, is also a process. In leadership, going through the motions without intention will only get you so far (I’ve met people like this!). And if you’re a writer or photographer or some other creative type, going through the motions will likely get you no where.


Hi there. I'm a writer and reserve military officer with a day job. I write fiction, professional essays on military topics, and wax philosophical about books and movies. I live in Florida with my husband, two kids, and two cats.


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