Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How I broke Heinlein's rules

Here are Heinlein's rules (or as close to them as I remember) and how I've broken them.

1. You must write.

When I first started writing, I did everything but actually write.  I thought about it, talked about it and read about it.

2. You must finish what your write.

On those rare occasions I actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I would get a few hundred words in and fizzle out.  Writing came harder to me than I thought it should.  Frankly, I felt entitled to become good at it without practicing.

3. You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.

I broke this rule every chance I got.  My writing dripped out of the faucet.  Then, the few words I managed to compile would be rewritten again and again.  I wouldn't even wait to finish the story, since I was breaking rule 3.  I'd rewrite each sentence and paragraph until no life remained in them.

4. You must put your writing on the market.

Only a small percentage, maybe 10%, became submissions.  Not a recipe for success.

5) You must keep it on the market until someone buys it.

The vast majority of that 10% was rejected, and rightly so.  Some of it I resubmitted elsewhere, but not consistently.  Furthermore, I wouldn't write while waiting.  I was too busy waiting to receive my rejections.

There.  The formula for failure as a writer.  Now go do the opposite.  Heinlein knew what he was talking about.