Following the Rules #goals #newyear #writing

Wow, it is already mid-month. Time is sliding right away. I haven’t even made my goals much less get started. I do have some author friends that have. This week Michal Scott is here to share their goals with you.

Hello Michal:

Hi Cathy. Thanks for inviting me to share my goals and new book with you. And Thank You, Robert Heinlein.
The new year always brings new writing resolutions, most of which are gone before February…mine included. This year – inspired by the perfect vision inspired by 2020 – I’ve enlisted Robert Heinlein’s business habits to help me reach my goals. Maybe they’ll help you too. If you’re interested, here’s an article that shares what Heinlein actually wrote: (

Now for my take on them and how they’re helping me meet my 2020 goals:

Goal #1: Write. I can mind map and outline until the cows come home, but if I don’t put word to paper I’m not writing. I have at least five folders full of story ideas, possible titles, series outlines, character sketches…and no story. Using rule #1 I have pulled out one story outlined. Tentatively titled Seasons of Light, it’s a second chance romance in which by sharing their Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations, an African-American six-year-old and his eighty-year-old Jewish neighbor bring the boys estranged parents back together. So far I’ve written 13,950 words.

Goal #2: Finish what you’ve written. Using rule number two, I’ve set a word count of at least 55K. I’m a formula person so this means I’ve got 41-51K to go. To have Seasons of Light finished by December 31 I’ve got to write 1,000 words per week. Writing six days a week (I’m taking Sunday off. Even God rested on the seventh day, right?) That’s only 166 words per day. I can do that.

Goal #3: Revise don’t rewrite. This is a BIG problem for me. My revisions, unfortunately, turn into myriad versions that I then can’t decide which version I like best. To help me break the habit I have pulled Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King off the shelf and will keep it by my side as I revise Seasons of Light. Answering the questions in the checklists at the end of each chapter has already checked my “rewriting” tendencies. I’m hopeful a version of Seasons of Light will have a fighting chance.

Goal #4: Submit what you wrote. I normally write erotic historical romance. Seasons of Light is a sweet contemporary, so rule #4 is forcing me to do market research. What publishing houses might take a chance on a contemporary second chance romance with African American and Jewish characters set in Brooklyn? Hmmm. I’m investigating four or five that might take a chance on seem to like urban settings but like family-focused storylines.  

Goal#5: Submit it until you sell it. I have printed out a list of famous books rejected multiple times (The Help by Kathryn Stockett: 60. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time: 26). These numbers tell me I’ve got to investigate five to ten times more lines if my first four to five houses say “no thanks.” I’m already on the hunt. :  )

I love Seasons of Light and with Robert Heinlein’s help, 2020 will be the year I launch it on the world. Wish me luck.

Title: Better To Marry Than To Burn

Author name: Michal Scott

Publisher and date: Wild Rose Press, 2018

cover artist: Kristian Norris

 Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.

excerpt: “Our children?” She swiveled in her seat. “You made no mention of wanting children, just marital relations as necessary. I understood that to mean intercourse.”

“I wrote I wanted to leave a legacy.”

“A legacy. Not a dynasty.”

“Legacy. Dynasty. Is there really so sharp a distinction?”

“To my mind there is. I understood you meant to affect future generations—endow schools, found churches, create civic associations. I didn’t realize that meant children. I agreed to having sex, not having children.”

 “Of course I want children.” His brows grew heavy as he frowned. “Doesn’t having sex lead to having children?”

“Not with the right precautions.”

His frown deepened. “Precautions?”

“There are many ways to prevent your seed from taking root, Mr. King.”

“I want children, Mrs. King.”

Her lips twisted and her brow furrowed, but she kept her silence.

“All right,” she said. “You can have children with any woman you like. I won’t stop you. I free you from any claim to fidelity.”

“Legacy—or dynasty if you will—means legitimacy. No bastard will carry my name, not when I have a wife to bear me children.”

“I see.”

Her tone signaled she didn’t.

You can Buy it Here

You can follow Michal here: Twitter – @revannable, @mscottauthor1

backlist: One Breath Away, Stranded

Is there a goal or rule you find that helps you?

11 responses to “Following the Rules #goals #newyear #writing”

  1. I believe this blog post just saved me! Seriously, I followed in Heinlein’s footsteps. I’ve been so stuck trying to follow all thes other ‘rules’ that I’ve grown to not enjoy writing. I’d agree, though, that the 5 rules he outlined are certainly the hardest to follow, but there is no time like the present to begin.

    Thank you so much for sharing things here on the blog. It is appreciated.

  2. I love Heinlein and admire his 5 rules . . . but I notice you (like most people) had to slightly revise his third rule — and I like your version much better!

    The original was “refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.” He took stories straight from the typewriter to the envelope. All I can say is that Heinlein must’ve been a freak, because that works for almost no one. We human beings — meaning me, at least — need multiple passes, multiple drafts. I can’t help recall Hemingway’s dictum: “The first draft of anything is shit.”

    • Hemingway knows my first draft LOL. I do plan on trying 1 and 2 for sure lol. I have pretty much decided to self publish so the last to don’t pertain much to me.

  3. Thanks. We can never take someone else’s formula without adapting it. I’d love to see how the drafts he finally submitted were changed with an editor’s help once they were accepted.

  4. Thanks, Delsora. I am determined to be really productive in 2020 and Robert Heinlein’s rules/habits is holding me accountable. I’ll let you know how I make out. : )

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