We’re back to the “simple”, no duh, universal truths of Heinlein’s rules. The thing about writing rules is that I don’t generally have a rules-following mindset. So, when someone says “show, don’t tell.” I’m like…okay, but…
Heinlein’s rules on the other hand? Four of the Five, I simply do not see how you break. The one that you CAN break, frankly, I think is the best writing advice I have ever received.
What about #4?
This is the one I struggle with the most by far. Let’s examine a little about how my process works.
- Write the book. If you’ve heard of “cycling”, that’s pretty much what the process of writing my stories looks like. If you haven’t…in summary, I write until I get stuck. Take a short break. Jump back and read what I just wrote adding depth, correct a typo or two…but most importantly reading…by the time I have reached the white page, I have momentum and I plow forward until I get stuck. Repeat. I also do the jump back and read until the white page, when I start a new day’s writing. Okay, that’s more than I wanted to say on the subject…
- At the end, I turn on spell check. Make those fixes.
- Hand the story over to my reader.
- The next day after finishing one story I start the next. This is one of my self-imposed “rules”.
- When the reader’s comments come back, I make the fixes I agree with. Generally, I agree with most of them, because she knows what I’m looking for and she does a good job at it. This doesn’t take much time, usually an hour or so.
- Send to copy-editor. Continue writing the next story.
- Fix copy-editor’s mark-ups. I’m not going to lie, these usually number in the 100s. But they are simple fixes. Almost all typos.
- After I’ve done this fix, I format the interiors of ebook and paperback.
- Create covers (honestly some of the covers stuff goes on throughout the entire process, but I have to have the interior format to be able to complete the paperback cover)
- Submit to KDP and Ingram Spark for publication
I’m sure I’m missing something in there, but that’s pretty much it.
To follow Heinlein’s rule #4, I either submit to traditional publishers (or I guess agents, though it must land on an editor’s desk to follow the rule). Or I self-publish. The process above is for self-publishing.
What I dislike about this is that I spend far too much time in critical thinking in these steps after the Write the Book step. I enjoy the covers work, until I get to the getting Ingram Spark to accept my paperback cover portion of it. But, for the most part I hate spending that much time outside of the fun of creating.
And because of that there is a lag between each step, when I must drop the writing and address the “getting this shit ready for market” part of the process.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I don’t participate in the ritualistic chant of “Writing is Hard.” However, I will confess that I find Heinlein Rules #4 difficult.
All the above, speaks to process.
There is also the psychology of it. This is the point where you release it to the world of editors or readers. I think some writers struggle with this more than others. It took some courage for me the first time, but it’s gotten easier. I think seeing this Rule helps. There’s no arguing the logic of it. You cannot sell what sits on your desk. As a result, I don’t think much of my issues with Heinlein’s #4 are psychological… I just don’t enjoy the process between writing and publishing. So I procrastinate…
Here is the result of my adherence to Heinlein’s Rule #4: