I love learning from the greats how they worked, how they thought of their art/craft, this thing we call writing (such a drab name for an act so often fraught with terror and yet having the power to create ecstasy).
Courtesy of Brain Pickings, here are Henry Miller's 11 Commandments:
- Work on one thing at a time until finished.
- Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
- Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
- Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
- When you can’t create you can work.
- Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
- Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
- Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
- Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
- Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
- Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
I find (1) and (10) the hardest. It seems as soon as I begin work on one book I can think of at least 2 others I want to write more than the one I happen to be working on.
My favorite is (5), "When you can't create you can work." I wonder if Henry Miller ever woke up up feeling like cotton batting had replaced his brains and he just wasn't up to stringing two coherent words together. It's strangely comforting to think he may have.
But that's not all! Here is Henry Miller's daily schedule:
- If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.
- If in fine fettle, write.
- 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.
- 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.I think that's a great schedule. As always, the trick is sticking to it, as Mr. Miller did. I think there's a lot of truth to the saying, "Success is 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration".
I hope Henry Miller's schedule/work ethic inspired you to write, it has me!
Cheers, and keep writing.
Other articles you might like:
- Stephen King: 15 tips on how to become a better writer - Penelope Trunk Discusses Time Management
- Pixar: 22 Ways To Tell A Great Story