That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own.”
- Henry Miller
Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 – June 7, 1980)
was an American writer and painter.
He was known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of "novel" that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism,
one that is distinctly always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller and yet is also fictional.
His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer (1934), Black Spring (1936), and Tropic of Capricorn (1939).
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.
Under a part titled Daily Program, his routine also featured the following wonderful blueprint for productivity, inspiration, and mental health:
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.
- 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.