Saturday, October 16, 2010

Robert Heinlein and Getting Back To Basics

People are arguing over price and marketing and strategies again over on the Kindleboards and other areas where writers congregate. Well, okay, writers never stop arguing about such things. Especially when sales are a little slow, as they are right now.

Even in good times, writers are always a little desperate. You don't get feedback when you work alone in your attic or basement, so the temptation to stir the pot and make something happen can be hard to resist. "Nobody likes me! (pause to listen) Can you hear me? (pause again) Fa lalalala! (echos) Seriously, you do like me, don't you? Is anybody there?" (No, really, seriously, is anybody there? Is this thing on? Did you get bored and click away to another blog? I can't tell from here....)

Indie writers don't even get rejection slips.

But I think, in the end, it's all just another form of cat vacuuming. (No, not cats vacuuming - though that's a good distraction too. I mean it's just like saying, "I can't sit down to work just yet, I have to vacuum the cat." It's a stalling strategy.) The internet gives us just enough feedback to make it feel useful to keep checking for new comments or look at your latest stats. After all, it's marketing and branding and platform building. We have to do that.

It's really easy to lose track of your priorities. So here is a reminder of what a writer's priorities should be. Robert Heinlein was a wise writer and knew what was what, and up from down, and here from there in terms of being a writer. He had five rules. Sometimes we get so wound up about things, we forget about them.

Heinlein's Rules of Writing

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.

They feel a little old-fashioned to some people now. A lot of people don't like Rule 3, and Rules 3-5 don't seem to apply to indie publishing at all.

But I think they are important. So important, that I'm going to do a series this week - each night talking a little about one of the rules.

In the meantime... I must write.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! You are on fire on JA's thread. Don't feel it goes unnoticed or underappreciated!

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks Steve.

Sometimes a discussion hits exactly on what you're thinking about.

The thing that I'm thinking about a lot these days is that writers are too scared of their own shadows. I want to get them going.

But maybe I should stop encouraging the competition....

Anonymous said...

I needed to hear the finish what you started, i've make horrendous errors with the first 80 pages, I need to go restructure the plot before I continue.

The Daring Novelist said...

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Keep writing. Finish it. If it doesn't work, take it as a lesson and move on.

If you don't move on and write more, different stories, you will never learn what you need to learn to fix that beginning.