Subscribe to the Writing the Wrong Way podcast and check out the archives!

In a 1947 collection of articles titled Of Worlds Beyond: The Science of Science Fiction Writing, edited by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, the author Robert A. Heinlein laid down a series of rules for professional writers.

These rules have become something a craft canon and are sometimes blindly followed, sometimes brutally debated. Here are Heinlein’s “rules” (which he both refers to as “rules” and “business habits,” and if you think of them as business habits so much of the contentiousness of them bleeds out):

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you start.
  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 sold.

I recently read Dean Wesley Smith’s book Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing and this topic was on my mind when I sat down to talk to my friend GMB Chomichuk about a different topic.

The Ghost of Robert A. Heinlein ended up taking over the podcast, and we went through his rules and how they might continue to apply in this new, digital age.

(There’s also a good article on Heinlein’s rules by science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer.)

GMB Chomichuk’s most recent (and most excellent!) book is The Automatic Age.

Want a free horror comic?

Join the Stranger Fiction newsletter!


    Author of stranger fiction. Advocate of writing the wrong way. Poet laureate of Hell.