So you can read my books

Saturday, November 17, 2012


“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses.

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.

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create, you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.


  1. Miller's commandments for writing are commons sense. I like most of them.

    Nice trailer, too. Looks good. I have always liked Bilbo better than Frodo; Bilbo wanted to see the world.

  2. Hi Roland .. yes - Miller's Commandments are so sensible .. exercise seems lacking! However .. I do like no 8: "Don't work like a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only" ....

    The Hobbit's opening is soon now isn't it .. 14th December - I'm not sure over here .. It will be such a good film - I hope and assume!

    Cheers Hilary

  3. I like how Miller makes it a point to "keep human." And I agree with Hilary, exercise needs to be added. That being said, I wish I could implement several of these commandments to my schedule. I think Miller's commandments would have been a bit different if he had kids to care for. (;

  4. Forget the books I want to write - easy, since I only think of one book at a time!

  5. D.G.:
    Yes, Miller seems to have his regimen planned out logically! He wrote a book, MILLER ON WRITING, that is still popular today. Bilbo held out against the ring much longer (years) than poor Frodo. I plan on seeing the film and keeping my fingers crossed that it is a good one!

    He took care of exercise in his daily plan where he included in every evening: Explore unfamiliar sections of city — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.

    I think THE HOBBIT might even open earlier in your country than in mine: most epic movies usually do to take advantage of the good press in England to hype American sales. Have a great Sunday.

    Yes, definitely. It reads as if he had no job as well! His poor wife, June, must have been supporting him that year. Ouch! (for her since she had no guarantee that his work would sell - it was banned in many countries)

    There are always other books floating in my head as with Henry! Crowded heads we have! Good luck on your latest book!

  6. “Every day we slaughter our finest impulses..."

    I have a thought, fail to make a note, gone.

    I think it does take discipline seasoned with fun, adventure and confidence. I know nothing but I do dream.

    Write on!

  7. I love the quote. His program is full of writing wisdom. I must heed his advice.

  8. i have trouble deciding if i should be in the human race... i would rather be called by my race and that of course is Vulcan... it's not illogical... i can dream can't i?

  9. Gail:
    On that"note," I need to buy a tape recorder for when I am at work, and an idea hits me! :-)

    Yes, his books were classics in the making, although not my cup of tea. My lead character in the 1st short story in BURNT OFFERINGS is named Myrna ... the narrator calls her Loy though to tease her. (It makes sense to him since he a very long-lived individual.)

    Vulcans? Too logical for me. LOL. I dream of a date with Olivia Wilde. Ah, dreams! :-)

  10. and kate benkinsale.. and yvonne trahovski... ms wilde... who's name says it all.

  11. love the true so true!!