HEINLEIN'S RULES FOR WRITING (from his 1947 essay "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction."
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
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A week or so ago I downloaded the War of Art by Shawn Coyne and Stephen Pressfield onto my Nook. It’s short, very easy to read, and very wise, as well. I think I found my answer to my procrastination issue within the electronic pages, in a chapter labeled “Resistance is Most Powerful at the Finish Line.” If you want to know what Resistance is, I recommend you get the book and read it, but my understanding of Resistance is that it is the thing that holds us back from achieving that which we are called to be. Mr. Pressfield states “The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got.”
Resistance for me says “You can write it tomorrow. You don’t have to be in any hurry. Stop being so neurotic about finishing, it probably isn’t good enough anyway. It’s a first novel, for God’s sake.” And I slowly lose my momentum, like a car that gets a flat tire and flops to a stop on the side of the road.
I know I have to finish this novel. I am not a writer if I don’t. I am just someone who wrote most of a novel. And there is no remedy, except to “Just Do It.” Nike really got it right. No therapy, no conversation, no reading, no inspiration is going to get me going. I have to just do it. Grit my teeth, get my butt in my new office chair, log on and do it.
The thing is, I know that once I do, it is all so easy. I can relax, and let my imagination take me by the hand and lead me down the creative pathway to the finish line. What perplexes me is that I make it so hard on myself to get to that point. How silly to fight against such a positive experience. The fight is what makes me think Steven Pressfield is right. Resistance is only as big as we make it out to be. Every day we have to take up the fight to be more and to achieve more than the last day. No excuses, no procrastination, no fear allowed. Just do it.