Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing
Thanks to Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings for this excellent page that includes Miller’s ‘daily program’.
- Work on one thing at a time until finished.
- Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
- Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
Don’t ever write anything you don’t like yourself and if you do like it, don’t take anyone else’s advice about changing it. They just don’t know.
Write for fifteen minutes every day. Set a time in advance, set a timer. Try to write at the same time every day. Your subconscious will get used to the idea and will start to work like a reliable water spout.
The terror of the white page never goes away, no matter how much you publish. Do you know how terrified I was this morning, as I woke up and walked into my latest novel? And it doesn’t get any better. Every time I finish a piece of work, I am completely terrified that I’m going to be found out, that I’m a charlatan, that I have nothing left anymore. That I can’t do it anymore. It’s no good; I’ve lost touch. Through all of that, you find another block of stone. You just continue to carve and chip away.
Thanks to Jon Winokur–via his Twitter feed– and his Advice to Writers for these first three quotes.
From the ‘Do as I share, not as I do’ department:
When you write – explode – fly apart – disintegrate! Then give time enough to think, cut, rework, and rewrite.
From the ‘Cripes, I hate it when people make me feel responsible for my own life’ department…
Sometimes people say to me, “I want to write, but I have five kids, a full-time job, a wife who beats me, a tremendous debt to my parents,” and so on.
I say to them, “There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life. You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait. Make the time now, even if it is ten minutes once a week.’
From the ‘Benefits of setting the bar low’ department:
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
For all you memoir writers out there…