The Rules of Writing

This year I was able to go to Dragoncon for only a single day. It was an absolute whirlwind of a time and it made me plan to attend all 4 days next year. There were so many amazing panels on writing and pretty much anything under the sun.

One of the panels I made it to was “Things I Wish A Pro Had Told Me…” which was presented by Kevin J. Anderson and his wife, Rebecca Moesta. They were a great duo and made a lot of awesome points, but I want to focus on is one thing they mentioned, Heinlein’s Rules For Writing Success. It’s something I’ve seen and read before but it was nice to get a refresher course in it.

Rule 1: You Must Write. 

Clearly if you want any success as a writer, you have to actually write. That means don’t sit and talk about writing, complain about writing, think about writing and never actually write. There is a big difference.


Rule 2: You must finish what you write. 

Again, it’s the curse of the dreaded new, shiny idea. If you bounce from project to project and never get to actually finish anything, how are you going to be able to submit anything for publication? Finish what you start. Buckle down and stay focused.


Rule 3: Don’t Edit Endlessly

Okay, so Heinlein said “You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order” which is confusing and awkward sounding. So, don’t spend your entire life editing something. Get it to a point where you are happy with it and let it go. Submit it for publication and wait for responses.


Rule 4: You Must Put Your Story Into The Market

You need to try for publication. Send your work out into the world. Share it with people, don’t expect that someone is just going to one day ask you if you want to write for them, or that they want to publish you. Get your name out there. I take this to mean more than just your story, put yourself out there, get your name known and network!


Rule 5: You Must Keep It On The Market Until It’s Sold

This one is a little scary. After that first rejection letter you have to resist your instinct to curl into a fetal position and cry. You have to say ‘Thanks!’ and then move on to sending your work to other places. Now, I don’t think this should go on endlessly. Give yourself a number. There was a poem I had that was having a hard time finding a home. I said I’d wait until I had 13 rejection letters for it before taking it off the market to be reworked. It made it to 10 rejections before it found a home.


Now, these are not the end-all, be-all of writing rules. Take some and leave some as needed. Writing is not set in stone and what works for me might not work for you.



  1. Laura Said:

    These are great! Though I have trouble with number 3 …

  2. randallweiss Said:

    Of course my blog entry for today was about editing…

    Rules 4 & 5 are what I’m working on.

    • Rules 4 and 5 are very challenging, though all the rules can give you a struggle.

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