As you probably know, I follow Dean Wesley Smith’s blog regularly. A few months ago I blogged about how he completed a 70,000 word novel in only ten days. Dean is a veteran writing machine and regularly provides useful advice for us newbie writers. I don’t necessarily adhere to all his instructions, but I do use the ones that make sense to me and discard those that I’ve found were either impractical or were incompatible with my way of doing things.
I’ve found there is very little instruction that I discard.
In today’s blog post Dean talks about having fun again when you write, and to do so using Heinlein’s Rules. For those who don’t know, Heinlein refers here to Robert A. Heinlein, often called the “dean of science fiction writers”. Heinlein along with Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are known as the “Big Three” of science fiction.
Here is an excerpt from Dean’s post:
“1… You bog down and stop almost every story or novel in the middle.
This is caused by fear, total fear of some result you have made up that will happen when you finish. This is deep. And often it is caused by your critical voice taking over after a burst of creative voice. Critical voice always thinks your creative voice sucks.
Solution? Dare to be Bad. Follow Heinlein’s Rules and make it a challenge to follow those rules for a year. Another solution: Stop caring what other people think. Stop showing your work to workshops. Just finish and publish and never look at numbers or reviews or anything.
Results if you follow the solution: Writing becomes all that matters, and the fun will return. (But a warning, it is scary hard to follow these solutions.)”
The timing of Dean’s post is rather perfect. I’m struggling with The Worthless One (the title might change to The Morrigan). When I say struggling I mean the damn thing just doesn’t want to quit on me. It keeps fighting me for more page time. I’ve been so bogged down with writing the story and getting the research right that I had lost my perspective. When that happens it’s like you’re writing in circles.
Mmm… Ok, that didn’t come out right.
I don’t mean writing in an actual circle, but then, using “walking” as an analogy for writing seems so appropriate. Like with walking, you have a start and a finish, and sometimes you get lost and wander aimlessly for hours until you reach a point where you’re walking in circles and you’re so horribly confused and tired you just want to be back home and not walk anymore. So, in that vein, I’d say yes, I felt like I was writing in circles. Dean’s analysis of Heinlein’s Rules, specifically the extract I quoted above, pulled me out of that slump of confusion (here’s a hint: I wasn’t actually confused. Just needed some adjustment to my perspective). I’m now looking at my book with fresh eyes and I can see it should have been finished already. In fact it probably is finished. I just need to tie loose ends together. I can do that. No problem.
Go on over to Dean’s blog and read the entire article. You’ll be richer for it: The New World of Publishing: Having Fun