Henry Miller on Writing


In the early thirties, as he was writing Tropic of Cancer, his first published novel that was to become a classic of twentieth century fiction, Henry Miller wrote himself this list of 11 commandments, one of the jewels collected in this book. We find them really useful and applicable to many creative pursuits. Here are a few:

Work on one thing at a time until finished.
Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
When you can’t create you can work.
Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.

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