Do you have a writing routine? What’s a writing routine, you ask? During 1932-1933 Henry Miller was working on what was to become his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer. In his subsequent book, “Henry Miller on Writing,” he details his eleven commandments and a stringent daily routine set. He used the guidelines to ensure he accomplished his writing goal.
- 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.
The Daily Program, or his daily routine, outlined the following:
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.
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 am toying with the idea of using his list as inspiration for drafting my own set of writing commandments. I figure I have nothing to lose and a completed manuscript to gain.
Did you write yesterday? Are you writing today?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer