Multiple USA Today bestselling author Kevin McLaughlin has written more than sixty science fiction and fantasy novels, along with more short stories than he can easily count. Kevin can be found most days in downtown Boston, working on the next novel. His bestselling Blackwell Magic fantasy series, Ragnarok Saga science fiction series, Valhalla Online LitRPG series, and the fan-favorite Starship Satori series are ongoing.

You Must Write by Kevin McLaughlin

No five lines of advice have built more successful writing careers than Robert Heinlein's five rules for writers.

Whether you are new to writing or the author of many books, Heinlein's Rules will help you bring your craft and career to the next level. This book delivers the rules in a series of practical lessons, each with exercises designed to help writers build the Rules into their own work-flow. Unlike most "writing rules", which tend to stifle creativity, Heinlein's Rules are focused on unleashing the most creative elements of our minds, combating our deepest and most crippling fears, and driving past the greatest obstacles most writers face to reach success.

In this book you'll learn:


- What Heinlein's Rules are, and how they can fit into YOUR writing career.
- Tools for better engaging your creative mind and shutting out the editorial voice while writing.
- Methods for identifying and facing down fears that block your way.
- Chapters on practical application, with examples drawn from the author's own thirty-two-book career as a bestselling novelist.



  • "I don't reread a lot of these books. This one? I'm sure I will."

    – Amazon Review
  • "While my inner voice will fight these rules, I feel educated enough with the tools provided in this book to battle my inner naysayers and get back to the writing, which for me is the fun part! I am genuinely inspired and excited to use the tips within this book going forward."

    – Amazon Review
  • "A practical and useful guide for starting and staying on your writing game. A good virtual kick in the pants, if you need it."

    – Amazon Review



The ideas in this book challenge many preconceived notions about the writing process. What you read here will fly in the face of some things you have read or been taught elsewhere. This wasn't an easy book to write, and I expect it won't be a simple one to read either. But it will be valuable.

There's something about being taken outside our comfort zone which helps us to grow. Enables growth, even. It's what we talk about in the Hero's Journey, after all: the idea that the protagonist must go beyond their "normal world" - their comfort zone, if you will - in order to become the person they are meant to be.

I'm going to be asking you to do that inside these pages. Some of what you read here will make you uncomfortable.

But none of it is false.

If you read something that feels off to you, consider why. Think about that thing for a while. Ponder it. Try the methods suggested here. You may well find an ability to grow in your own writing practice by stepping outside your comfort zone.

There are many ways to write a book, and none of them are wrong if they eventually lead to a good book that will educate or entertain readers. In these pages I talk about one method, but I want to stress before we begin that this is only a method - not THE method. As we say, there are many roads up the mountain.

This book contains everything you need for one route. It's a guide to reaching success as a writer that has worked for hundreds of professionals over the last seventy years. There are many ways to reach the summit - but this is a great one.

Who Am I?

I'm a firm believer that it's perfectly reasonable to ask someone for their bona fides when they're speaking as a subject matter expert. There are so many people out there writing books on this thing or that - how can we tell who really has the experience to back up what they're saying, and who is just parroting things they have heard elsewhere? The writing world has no shortage of bad advice passed around like it's the hottest new thing.

Hi. I'm Kevin McLaughlin. I'm a professional novelist; by that I mean writing novels is my full time job. I occasionally also do books like the one you're reading as more of a hobby. It's one way I can give back to the writing community. I got a lot of help from other people as I was making my way up to pro. Now that I'm here, I consider it my obligation to pay it forward and help others!

I've been full time for about a year now. It took me longer than some folks to get to that point. I made pretty much every mistake imaginable along the way. No, seriously - I made darn near all of them! Bad covers, mediocre editing, genre hopping, poor email list management… I could sit here all day and tell you the stories of how I messed up.

Which is useful, in a way. If I tell you how I messed up, maybe you can avoid some of those pitfalls as you move along your path. Hey, maybe there's a book in that…!

I've had over thirty books published, all but two of them (this one included) fiction. I've also written enough short stories and novelettes that I've lost track. I've hit the USA Today bestseller list. I pull in a salary from my writing that is sufficient to live in my nice downtown Boston apartment building without stressing about the bills. I've outlined some books and written others without an outline. I've been traditionally published and published independently. I do most of my own cover art, mostly because I find it fun, and I've gotten a lot better at it over the years. I got back into writing in 2007 through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but I don't really do it anymore since I now write over fifty thousand words every month, not just November.

Bottom line? I've walked the walk. When I tell you that I've tested a technique, you can rest assured that I've done so, not for just one book, but for many books.

What follows is a discussion of a very interesting writing model. It's one of many, but it's one that I find to be particularly powerful, and also one which I don't think gets enough attention in the writing world. Heinlein laid out some simple rules that, if followed, would result in professional success for a writer. He wasn't wrong. These rules work - but only if you follow them completely. Dipping a toe in and doing some of the rules but not others isn't enough. If you want to take this method on and write books using it, my advice is to go all-in. Give it an honest shot for three books. If it's not working for you after that, you can stop. Go use another method instead.

But it's a heck of a lot of fun. Things which make writing more fun are a wonderful addition to this job. If it ever gets boring, it's probably time for me to go do something else instead. Here's to keeping it interesting.

Let's begin.