Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Henry Miller's 11 Commandments

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In the early-1930s, as he wrote what would become his first published novel — the hugely influential Tropic of Cancer — Henry Miller wrote a list of 11 commandments, to be followed by himself.

The list read as follows.

(Source: Henry Miller on Writing Image: Henry Miller, c.1950, courtesy of Answers.)

COMMANDMENTS
  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.