1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
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 it is sold.
Robert Heinlein, in Of Worlds Beyond: The Science of Science Fiction Writing
Robert Heinlein is one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers of the 20th century along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. He is best known for his books Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. He was a prolific writer. With rules like this, how can you be surprised?
Steven Pressfield writes about the Resistance. It feels like fear most of the time but it manifests itself in different ways. Resistance is anything that keeps you from doing your work.
Heinlein’s rules for writing are designed to keep you from giving in to the Resistance.
You must write even when you don’t feel like it. You must write even when the Resistance gives you a good excuse not to.
You must finish what you write and ignore any of the Resistance’s internal thoughts about how bad it is.
You must trust yourself and trust professional, outside feedback on rewriting. You don’t know what is good or bad until someone tells you.
You must publish, self-publish, or submit your work to publications. You must have the intention at the outset that what you write will be read. You can’t let yourself store it away in a drawer. That is the Resistance.
You must not give up. Use rejection as a badge of honor. It is great defense against the Resistance.
Another Steve, Stephen King, had his big break with the novel, Carrie.
He wrote every day (2,000 words/day).
He finished the book.
Then he threw it in the garbage. He thought people would hate it.
His wife found it in the trash can and she read it. She thought it was good.
He finally submitted it to an editor.
He didn’t have to add a rejection slip to the hundreds of letters nailed to the wall.
He sold the novel and his prolific career took off.