Heinlein’s Rule No. 5: You Will Submit Again!

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”  –Samuel Johnson (1709 -1784) 
Sounds like Johnson and Heinlein are cut from the same cloth.



While this doesn’t exactly close the circle, this final step will keep you focused on the fact that this whole writing business is a process, not a one-off proposition. Still, it’s difficult to master the yin and yang of creativity and business. The work of creation, crafting and art is its own reward. When I manage to pull some ideas together, to bring a character to life, to stitch together several disparate elements into a coherent tale, to entertain or move some reader out there, well, the value of that is incalculable.

Yet, our creativity can be both priceless and worth something here in this world. I believe that we all express ourselves creatively every day in a myriad of ways, sometimes its not so apparent when those expressions don’t fall into a traditional category of arts and/or crafts. Maybe its how you train your dog, or your way with dinner conversation but when you choose writing (or painting or acting) as your life’s work then you should expect compensation. And by “expect” I don’t mean stand around waiting for pennies to rain down from above, I mean “expect” as in you should work toward that goal.

That said, I think the line of reasoning really speaks to me is from Steven Pressfield’s excellent book The War of Art

“Playing the game for money produces the proper professional attitude. It inculcates the lunch-pail mentality, the hard-core, hard-head, hard-hat state of mind that shows up for work despite rain or snow or dark of night and slugs it out day after day.”

This rule is the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. Your work is your work, whether you build it with your hands on an assembly line or it comes from your head and heart as a story. If you’re going to be a productive artist you must show up to work, do the work, and when it’s finished put it on market. More concisely:

“Inspiration is for amateurs” –chuck close


So, those are the Rules. Thinking about them, talking about them, blogging about them, it’s all good, but the most important thing to do is follow them. While one story is in the hopper at a publication, draft the next one. It wont take long before you are sending stories out to editors regularly. In no time it will be routine. You’re a writer, this is what you do: you write, you finish what you write, you don’t spin your wheels in revision, you send your work out, and send it out again until it sells.

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