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More than 65 years ago, Robert Heinlein gave a few simple rules about how to approach your writing career. The advice is considered timeless, but a few things have changed since then, and maybe it’s time for some revision.

David Farland talks about what Heinlein got right, what he oversimplified, and what has changed in the intervening 65 years since Heinlein made his famous rules.

  • Rule 1: You Must Write! This rule was always wrong. Heinlein considered composing to be the only productive thing that writers do, and thus set many new writers spinning their wheels. Dave discusses the other three things that you really need to do to be productive.
  • Rule 2: You Must Finish What You Write! This rule has always been right, and Dave expands upon it.
  • Rule 3: Do Not Rewrite Except To Editorial Demand. This rule has been out of date since at least 1977, and it was foolish even when Heinlein said it. Today, publishers are looking for authors who can be megastars right out the gate. Too many authors write a shoddy first draft and then hope in vain that an editor will fix it.
  • Rule 4: Send Your Work Out! With self-publishing, this rule is out of date. An author now needs to make a judgment call–do I go with traditional publishing, or go Indie? Dave explains how to make that call.
  • Rule 5: Keep Your Work on The Market Until It Sells! Dave discusses the difficulties inherent in following this rule–in maintaining confidence in a big book that hasn’t sold yet, and in building a following if you go indie.
  • Conclusion: Dave talks about why Heinlein’s rules were wrong in most cases on the date that he wrote them, and why other bits of advice