Henry Miller’s 11 writing commandments

It’s 1932. Henry Miller is in Paris trying to become a writer.

Miller is trying to work on a manuscript that will become “Tropic of Cancer.” But he’s distracted, annoyed, reckless, frustrated, confused, poor, drunk. A ripe fucking mess.

So he comes up with a daily Program to get his shit together and words down on the page. A routine for productivity, inspiration, and mental health. Part of the blueprint is 11 writing commandments he pens and nails to the wall above his typewriter.

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.

2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”

3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.

4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!

5. When you can’t create you can work.

6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.

7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.

8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.

9. Discard the Program when you feel like it - but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.

10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.

11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

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