Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dean Wesley Smith on Heinlein's Rules

Pretty interesting post over at novelist Dean Wesley Smith's blog, where the novelist -- who has written a number of movie adaptations and tie-in books in addition to his own work -- expands on author Robert Heinlein's famous rules for writers.
Follow Heinlein’s Rules every week. His rules are simple.

1) You must write.

2) You must finish what you write.

3) You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.

4) You must mail your story to an editor who will pay you money.

5) You must keep it in the mail until someone buys it.

Simple rules, very simple rules. Yet I get a ton of comments about how the writer making the comment knows more than Heinlein about writing and needs to change these rules for themselves. And these comments always come from newer writers, mostly unsold writers.

What these writers are saying to me simply is this: My belief system does not allow me to follow Heinlein’s Rules.

Belief Systems. I call them “Myths.” They are very, very powerful things in all of us, especially when it comes to writing and the process around writing and even more the mailing and marketing of stories to editors.

Some of these simple, but wrong belief systems are:

“I need more practice. My work isn’t good enough yet to send to editors.”

“I need to polish my work before I dare send it out.”

“An editor will hate me if I write a bad story.”

Worth checking out the full blog post.


Zombie said...

Very cool - thanks for the link. Have you seen BKV's essay on writing? It's pretty interesting. I'll link to it soon...

king suckerman said...

Nope. I'm curious to read it!