Don’t Overcomplicate It

I attended a QWC (Queensland Writers Centre) Workshop on submissions yesterday.  Hosted by the rapid-speaking and highly informative Peter M Ball, (Manager of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace) I’m still reeling from everything I was exposed to.

I am ashamed to admit that just before the workshop began, I had the arrogant belief that I was just there to confirm some stuff and pick up a few gems along the way.  I was both astonished and pleased with how much I learned.  I’m not so egotistical or unbound in reality to think I’ve done anything except scratch the surface of the writing and publishing world, but I am proud of the fact I do my research before I attempt anything.  It’s something that not everyone does, and it strikes me as a part of common sense.  First you learn as much as you can, and when you can’t find anything more or anything specific to you, then you should start asking the experts.

The workshop was six hours of really useful and practical examples and advice.  I still have a huge document of notes to peruse, but it was at the end of the talk that Peter shared Heinlein’s Rules; advice so simple and so mindblowingly effective that it resonated within me.  It does sound a bit stupid and obvious when first heard, but when it’s properly thought about and analysed (and coupled with the realisation that only 1-2% of writers actually follow all this advice) it allows a writer to understand that it really is that simple.  Writers tend to over-complicate things, but Heinlein knew the plain truth.

Rule 1: You must write
Rule 2: Finish what you start
Rule 3: You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order
Rule 4: You must put your story on the market
Rule 5: Keep it on the market until it has sold
Rule 6: Start working on something else

Another science fiction author, Robert J. Sawyer, discusses each of the rules in greater detail.

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