Heinlein’s Rule No. 1 – You Must Write


You must write. Contrary to the evidence of this blog I have been writing. Or perhaps the lack of entries is proof that I’m writing. So far this year I have several stories in various stages of drafting and revision. I have written more – and more regularly – than I have for years. I just haven’t quite figured out how to plug writing this blog into my process.

You must write. We all know it. This advice is so elemental and we hear it all the time. There are entire writing books devoted to expanding on that one brief imperative sentence. But I like how Heinlein puts it. Rule number one. Three words. Period, end of conversation.

You must write. And I’m here to tell you that it’s really not that hard to write – to write just a little – everyday. Or is it? Apparently it is. Why else would we keep repeating that mantra? Personally, there have been many, many days gone by where I have not written a word. Day’s I’ve spent thinking about writing without ever, actually sitting my ass down to write. All I can do is put those days behind me. Like Tolstoy’s families, the happy families are all alike. Every day that I manage to write is a good day because no matter what else happens that day at least I got my pages done. But every day I manage to avoid writing is unhappy in its own way.

You must write. As I get older I’ve come to know myself better, and by this I specifically mean I’ve come to know just how subversive and sneaky that little do-it-later troll is. He doesn’t live under a bridge, but in my brain. I have veered off the path too many times to count. I used to care about the reasons behind my habits of procrastination and avoidance but I have to tell you I don’t any more. I’ve discovered that I don’t need to know how quicksand works to recognize it, and when I come upon it all I need to do is sidestep it. And by “sidestep” I mean sit my ass down and pick up my pen.

You must write. Because writing isn’t the result, it’s the cure.

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