On Writing,  publishing,  workshops

WRITING INTO THE DARK: A New Online Workshop


Learn how to write clean, first-draft novels and stories without ever outlining or rewriting.

Yes, it can be done and most long-time professional writers do just that.

Learn how to bring the fun of storytelling back to your writing and become more prolific along the way.

This class will be full of techniques, myth-busting, and exercises to help you learn to write clean, first-draft novels that never need to be rewritten.

If you automatically thought that can’t be done, you really need this workshop.

If you are trapped in the myth of rewriting things until they are mush, you really need this workshop.

If writing is no longer fun, you really, really need this workshop.

Everyone teaches the myths of outlining and rewriting. This class shows there is another way. A better and more fun way.


September workshops are now taking sign-ups

Class #25… Sept 5th … Depth #3: Research
Class #26… Sept 5th … Writing into the Dark
Class #27… Sept 5th … Business
Class #28… Sept 5th … Endings
Class #29… Sept 5th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #30… Sept 5th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #31… Sept 6th … Depth in Writing
Class #32… Sept 6th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #33… Sept 6th … Cliffhangers
Class #34… Sept 6th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #35… Sept 6th … How to Edit Your Own Work
Class #36… Sept 6th … Writing Fantasy

For information go to https://deanwesleysmith.com/online-workshops/


  • Scott Parker

    I have been writing into the dark for every project I’ve started this year. I”m on novel #6…and having a blast. Eye opening concept that I never thought possible–er, trusted myself to try. So glad I did.

  • Anthony St. Clair

    OK, I’m intrigued. I don’t fall into the cult of rewriting, and I have lots of fun with my writing, but I’m down with being more prolific. So far in my career, outlining has been the difference between done and not done. I use outlines for my freelance work (such as articles and website copy) as well as for my novels, but I’ve been interested in figuring out how to do more fiction without an outline. I’ve tried in the past, but the project has always fizzled out.

    If I can expand my creative output to roll with an idea, then the class sounds really interesting. How much of the class is myth-busting or dealing with a lack of productivity, versus helping already productive writers expand their abilities to conceptualize and produce a story?

    • dwsmith

      It’s both, Anthony because you have to clear out the myths to become more productive. So it will help those struggling and stopped and those pacing along fine but who want to be more productive. Also, there are reasons, based in myths and fear and not knowing some techniques, that caused your stories you tried without outlines to fizzle. All that will be covered.

      • JM6

        Attended a science fiction convention last weekend. Everywhere I went, it was all about getting the first draft done and then producing two or three more drafts by editing. Even the so-called pantsers talked about the huge amount of editing (rewriting) they had to do.

        However, I realized there were some very productive writers there who didn’t mention the rewrites, so I am beginning to suspect that there are at least two writer types at conventions: those who talk about rewriting/editing because they spend so much time on it and want you to know how hard they’re working, and the ones who don’t rewrite and just keep producing new stories and therefore don’t have anything to add to the rewriting camp’s explanations.

        Question about writing into the dark: most of your stories recently seem to be in topical areas you know well: poker, Idaho, etc. Will your workshop cover how to research when writing into the dark on topics you don’t know as well? (How much research to do before you start writing into the dark, how to research while writing, etc.?)

        • dwsmith

          JM6, yeah, outliners and rewriters talk a lot. The rest of us, including me in the old days of convention going, stayed silent. Not worth the fight.

          As for research and writing into the dark, we have an entire week on that in the Research workshop. It will get mentioned in the Writing into the Dark workshop, but most of that information is in the full research workshop.


        • David Alastair Hayden

          I wouldn’t assume that all writers mean the same thing even when they use the same terms. I “revise” as I go. And sometimes I “rewrite” as I go too. But all I mean by that is that I’m cycling and layering in. It’s all a creative process, never a critical one. I write a scene then I immediately double back to layer in. About 50% of all the words I write and many of my best ideas are during that step. It’s like seeing only half the scene the first go, then seeing the rest. Mostly, the first round has all the action and dialogue and the second layers in description and emotion.

          If I “rewrite” in the cycle it’s only because I’ve made a mistake or add a better solution that my storytelling brain has figured out or I fix a broken sentence. It’s hard to explain, but you know when your’re doing it creatively or analytically. If you’re thinking about words and sentences and how people will respond, you’re not in creative mode. If you’re not in the zone, you’re not in creative mode.

          I don’t rewrite or revise a scene days later or when the book is finished, unless my editor finds a problem. And that never happens. Mostly she just cuts indulgent paragraphs with too much setting description or finds a few basic errors. I don’t revise with my analytical brain thinking about meaning or critical response or the storytelling police.

          I do an edit draft with the book printed out at the end, looking for errors, wrong character names, misused terms. Stuff that I wouldn’t expect a copy editor to get, because of the genres I write in and the made up and scientific terms I use. I do those edits after I get it back from my editor, before proofing. I also find that helpful in keeping the story fresh in mind because I write in series and will forget things otherwise. It takes a day, two if I’m lazy and the book is long. No revising or rewriting. Just a word altered here and there, a few missing commas added.

          So is that two drafts? Or three, with two happening at once? I write, revise, and edit. I could say I write, layer in as I go, and do a basic edit, but people would look at me funny.

          Also, I don’t plot. I used to, but the plots ended up useless after about a third of the way through because I’d drift off. So what’s the point? I’ll write a few paragraphs, maybe a couple of pages of concepts for the first book in a new series, just stuff to get my brain going. Most of that gets discarded but it is helpful.

          I used to write this minimal drafting way until I learned “the correct way” which made me miserable and less productive. All that rough drafting and revising and plotting was torture and didn’t make my writing any better. In some ways, it was worse. It took so much effort to get into creative mode to fix things.

          I started returning to my roots slowly, after having written over a million word of fiction, then at the perfect time stumbled upon all of Dean’s great advice on one draft writing and writing into the dark, all of which is really just about confidence and trusting your storytelling brain and ignoring nonsense writing methods that don’t work for you. Now I’m writing easily in a way that fits me and I’m having fun. The process feels natural and unforced.

          Sorry if I went a little off tangent there.

          • dwsmith

            All sounds good to me, David. As I tell people in public (outside of this blog), I write three drafts. In reality I do one draft, cycling and getting it right the first time through so that when I hit the end, I am done.

            But what I call my three drafts are that one draft, a spell-check draft, and then fixing the typos and character name mistakes a first reader finds. So people are happy when I say I am a three-draft writer. It fits in their myths. (grin)

      • Anthony St. Clair

        Yesterday I remembered that you had the WRITING IN THE DARK e-book, so I snagged a copy (and I know the class goes beyond the book, but it’s royalties for you and a good start for me). Read the first half on my Kindle while putting my daughter to bed last night… then wrote 1,246 words in 25 minutes, while sitting next to my snoozing wee girl.

        Before going to sleep later I read the rest of the WITD book. Impressed… encouraged… and motivated. I’ve always been intrigued by writers such as Tom Robbins who are also known for the sort of process you lay out. Like I said, the outlining process I mentioned has so far been my difference between done and not done, but I also figured it was a step on the journey. I’ve been trying for ages to do more in fiction that isn’t novel-length, as well as expand on how I’m doing my books, and just take ideas from my story world and roll with them so I can get more work out there.

        I’ve a ways to go, but this was an encouraging start. Especially since I was working in a character that I’ve been fiddling with for a while. No map. Just putting one word after another. It was quite fun. Now to see what happens when I head back to this new story later.

        Since I’m heading to the Business Master Class in October, that’s where I’m focusing my training resources for the now. But seeing how I progress on my own, don’t be surprised if I’m checking back on the Writing in the Dark class in the next few months.

        Thank you, Dean.

    • dwsmith

      Julie… Both…All our workshops are awareness because you can’t do something if you don’t know it is possible. But there will be writing in this one as well. (grin)

  • Michael R.E. Adams

    This is the workshop I’ve been waiting for for years. But with a $4k dental bill, trying to save up $600 for ISBNs because Createspace no longer offers the $10 option, and building my funds for copyediting I am tapped for a while to come. I will be rereading the book but I would love to go so much deeper someday.

    • dwsmith

      This will be about 50 times more than the book. The book is basically similar to the lecture. This will have a ton more stuff, techniques, and also the five assignments to drive the lesson’s home.

      So very different. Same topic, but a lot, lot more.

  • Jennifer Brinn

    Will this be done via the wordpress as normal or will you be using Teachable? (I find using the WordPress interface for the workshops very clunky, I’m afraid. And it makes it impossible to listen to them on my commute, because I can’t key up a playlist–I don’t want to click my phone while driving to load the next one!)

    • dwsmith

      WordPress because Teachable hasn’t managed to get to the next step yet on how these function. But we are getting close. They can drip out weeks now. As soon as they add in one more feature, I will jump the workshops there. All the classic workshops and the lectures are now there. And I have now set Teachable for mobile so everyone can listen on cell phones or tablets while commuting. This is sort of one step at a time. Ten months ago we didn’t even know about Teachable. (grin)

  • Alan

    I’m halfway through your Writing into the Dark Lecture Session videos on Teachable and really enjoying it. My last two novels end up being a mess of rewriting hell so I’m trying to get away from that on my next novel!

    I’m assuming this workshop is like the lecture session on steroids with a lot more details? Does it make sense to do both? Thanks!

    • dwsmith

      Yes, think of the lecture as sort of a “Hey, did you know this was possible.” The six week workshop is how to do it. And so much more, including all the problem areas we all run into in this method and how to get past them.

      So yes, it makes complete sense to do both. Especially if you are stuck in the critical voice rewriting problem.