Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#7 October 8 2014. Henry Miller’s Writing Commandments. The man was more disciplined than one might think.



It is hard to explain the commitment, discipline, fortitude and sacrifice that writing—or aspiring to write—at a certain level requires. Writing is a jealous god. It will deliver the greatest satisfaction and pleasure that can be achieved as a mortal, and yet it demands what many may well consider an unreasonable level of dedication. 

If you are serious about writing, though you may go through the motions of living a conventional existence, you live neither a balanced life, nor a free one. It is a true paradox that an activity which, on the face of it, leaves the writer free of the demands of conventional work—which yields you the time to do pretty much what you want—actually shackles you to the task at hand.

But, we are willing prisoners. “Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand” says it beautifully.

Henry Miller is also clear about the priorities that are required. The good news: As can be seen from his photo, they do not exclude other pleasures.

Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

    • 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.

304 words

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