Henry Miller’s 11 Writing Commandments

Henry Miller’s 11 Writing Commandments


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Henry Miller was an American writer and painter. He is best-know for writing Tropic of CancerBlack Spring, and Tropic of Capricorn. He also wrote travel memoirs and essays about literary criticism and analysis.

Miller wanted ‘to reestablish the freedom to live without the conventional restraints of civilisation. His books are potpourris of sexual description, quasi-philosophical speculation, reflection on literature and society, surrealistic imaginings, and autobiographical incident.’ (via Goodreads)

When he was writing his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer, he wrote a list of 11 commandments, to be followed by himself.

Henry Miller’s 11 Writing Commandments 

(from Henry Miller on Writing)

  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 fertilisers.
  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.

Source for list