Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing & Daily Creative Routine


Photograph of Henry Miller taken by Brassai in Paris in 1931


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

THE 11 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.