Henry Miller wrote 
a list of 11 commandments, 
to be followed by himself


Brainpickings 
excerpt


In 1932-1933, while working 
on what would become 
his first published novel
Tropic of Cancer
Miller devised and adhered to 
a stringent daily routine 
to propel his writing
Among it was this 
list of eleven commandments
found in Henry Miller on Writing


C O M M A N D M E N T S

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.


Under a part titled 
Daily Program
his routine also featured 
the following wonderful blueprint 
for productivity, 
inspiration, 
and mental health:


MORNINGS:

If groggy, 
type notes 
and allocate, 
as stimulus.
If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS:
Work of section in hand, 
following plan 
of section scrupulously. 
No intrusions, no diversions. 
Write to finish one section 
at a time, for good and all.


EVENINGS:


See friends. 
Read in cafés.
Explore unfamiliar sections 
— on foot if wet, 
on bicycle if dry.
Write, if in mood, 
but only on Minor program.
Paint if empty or tired.
Make Notes. 
Make Charts, 
Plans. 
Make corrections of MS.


Note: 
Allow sufficient time 
during daylight 
to make an occasional visit 
to museums 
or an occasional sketch 
or an occasional bike ride. 
Sketch in cafés 
and trains 
and streets. 
Cut the movies! 
Library for references 

once a week.

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