Heinlein’s Business Rules

I’ve never heard of Heinlein’s Business Rules before.  Thankfully, I read The Passive Voice, who pointed to this post by Dean Wesley Smith, wherein he mentions aforementioned rules in a post that really should be read in full by anyone who fancies themselves a writer. I mean that.  Click on Dean’s name and go read that post. What are Heinlein’s Business Rules, you might ask?

Here they are (with small additions from Smith):

His rules go simply:

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 work to someone who can buy it.
5) You must keep the work in the mail until someone buys it.

Those rules do seem so simple, and yet are so hard to follow at times. They set out a simple practice schedule and a clear process of what to do with your practice sessions when finished. But for this chapter, note rule #3. Harlan Ellison added to rule #3. “You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.” Harlan addition: And then only if you agree.

And, of course, if you indie publish, substitute “publish” in #4  for “mail” and let reader’s buy it. And then for #5 just keep it for sale.

An interesting take on things.  And it goes against every fiber of your being, if you’re a aspiring writer.  Mostly because every fiber of your being has had the edit, edit, edit, rewrite, rewrite, proof, proof, edit, rewrite, submit, repeat mantra beat into your head at every turn by everyone.  Will Heinlein’s rules work for everyone?  Certainly not.  But, I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of you would find they work just fine. Maybe you should give it a try.




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