Henry Miller – How To Be A Writer

I’m a little bit hooked on Flavorwire – they turn up some amazing, inspiring creative content. Like this list of Henry Miller’s tips on how to be a writer.

Henry Miller Library, Big Sur

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.

Brilliant, no? Especially “Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly”, which echoes Isak Dinesen’s advice to “Write a little every day, without hope, without despair.”

What commandments would you add?

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4 thoughts on “Henry Miller – How To Be A Writer

  1. A great set of guidelines, or rules, okay commandments! I especially liked # 9 as I’m sure many writers have many stories swishing around their heads at once, but you have to concentrate on the one you’re writing or you’ll end up with a bunch of half finished projects.

    • I’m the same! Often, I find it refreshing to do different types of writing. If I get bogged down in my book sometimes writing a snappy blog post boosts my spirits and confidence, and exercises a different writing muscle. But I would probably hesitate to take on two full-scale projects at once. There will always been main and subsidiary.

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