Which rule do you break?

I’ve posted Heinlein’s rules numerous times, but a thred at the Asimov’s forum reminded me of them andyou can never hear them too often so here they are again.
RULE ONE: You must write.
RULE TWO: Finish what you start.
RULE THREE: You must refrain from re-writing, except to editorial order.
RULE FOUR: You must put your story on the market.
RULE FIVE: You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

Number two used to be my big problem. I have a solid rule to never start a new story until the old one is finished now as a consequence.

Which rule do you break? Do you keep tinkering with stories for decades? Perhaps you put them back in the drawer at the first rejection? Or are you a perfect and stick ot them all?


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

3 thoughts on “Which rule do you break?

  1. I interpret that one as meaning ‘Refrain from re-writing…once you are finished.’ Its really aimed at the people who rewrite and rewrite but never send anything out.

    Of course in the pulp era where Heinlein got started it might have been literal. Bang out 50k and send it out without even re-reading, let alone re-writing. That was how you made a living in those days.


  2. I don’t break any exactly, except that with regard to Rule 5, I might take a poem/story out of my submissions pile for a while and wait until I find a more suitable market for it.

    I’d interpret Rule 3 as if it’s ready to send out, send it out and don’t be tempted to re-write unless an interested editor wants some tweaking before they’ll accept. I think we’ve all met people who spend years re-writing their novel but will never be a writer because they won’t send it out and start on the next.



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