IWSG: Following Heinlein’s Rules


Writers and would-be writers, since we work alone, crave rules that will promise success. Lots of people make up rules for writers— English teachers who have never published anything, or even written anything, wannabe writers who like to boss other wannabes around, people trying to sell writing classes or writer services or recruit writers to be victimized by a vanity press….

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

The best rules for writers come from known writers who have actually written stuff, and made a living from writing. Robert Heinlein was such a writer— his science fiction is still read today— and he invented 5 simple rules for writers.

I have a book by Dean Wesley Smith about Heinlein’s rules. Smith is also a professional writer. He got that way by following Heinlein’s rules, he says. Smith has written over 100 novels and an unknown number of short stories, in his early career he was entirely traditionally published and has now gone indie, and I have actually heard of him and have some books he wrote on my shelf.

Heinlein’s rules worked, therefore, for Dean Wesley Smith, at least. Will they work for you? Probably better than writing advice from people who have never made a living at writing, who perhaps have never finished a novel or even a short story.

Here are the rules— Heinlein called them business habits:

1. You must write.

2. You must finish what you start.

3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.

4. You must put it on the market.

5. You must keep it on the market until sold.

Things are a little different today, as Dean Wesley Smith points out in his book. Putting a written work on the market can now mean indie publishing it. Keeping it on the market until sold can mean keeping an indie published work up, even if it doesn’t sell very well, instead of pulling all your work down because it’s ‘not good enough.’

As the ultimate Insecure Writer, I’m shy about submitting my work for publication, perhaps because of my Asperger Syndrome. Perhaps it’s just I am afraid of being judged by people who just don’t get me. But in keeping with Heinlein’s rules, I put up some of my work on Wattpad, and plan to do more there— a non-fiction work, and a new book of my poetry, both of which may become, in a longer version, at least Smashword ebooks and perhaps proper books (if I can figure out how to format for Lulu and how to afford a decent book cover.)

My Wattpad profile: https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt

Feel free to share your own Wattpad profile in a comment.

3 thoughts on “IWSG: Following Heinlein’s Rules

  1. One of the reasons I love speculative fiction publishing is that there’s a relatively high concentration of people on the autism spectrum. There’s value in thinking outside of what’s mainstream in that field. The religious and non-religious mix readily. The sexuality and sexual orientation of characters are diverse (not enough for my preferences, but getting there despite the obstacles.) There are currently bubbles around certain politics that’s harmful to the publishing overall; however, several markets cater to the writers in that bubble. I’m confident you can find the people who can help you build up courage against the (very common!) fear of being seen through your writing.

  2. If you check out http://accordingtohoyt.com, she has several long posts on how to use readily available tools to create covers.
    I have used Canva, and the cost (free for basic stuff), and the ease of use make it good for beginners.
    BTW, love the title of your blog – I’m a retired science teacher.

  3. I’ve used Canva for my Wattpad covers and may use it for a Smashwords project I’m working on, but I’m not that great at cover design and wish I could delegate that. Thanks, Linda, for the link, by the way, I will have to check that out.
    As for the blog title, my main knowledge of antimatter comes from Star Trek episodes, but I do have sciency interests that are not science fiction.

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