“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery.”
“I had to learn to think, feel and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world.”
Sometimes, the universe drops a gift in your lap. That’s exactly what happened when an email popped into my inbox from one of my writing critique group buddies, David Popiel. He passed on a link from the inventive site brainpickings.org about Henry Miller. When Henry was working on his groundbreaking novel, Tropic of Cancer, he came up with 11 writing commandments to keep himself motivated and propel his work steadily forward, day by day. The commandments were later included in his book, Henry Miller on Writing. Here they are:
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.
Writing is a tough game and keeping yourself energized and performing at a high level isn’t easy. I love the way Henry balances his discipline and dedication with joy and relaxation to keep his wellsprings of creativity flowing. What a gift. Thanks, David! Now, let’s write on!