Cement not fertilisers

There’s a great motivational list by Henry Miller on Brain Pickings, written when he was writing his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer:

  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.

I think my favourite is “Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing”. There’s such a disjunction between the two – what you want to write and what you’re able to write. Sometimes the fear of the latter means you write nothing at all.

Brain Pickings has more on his daily routine too. Notes, writing, reading, seeing friends in cafes. Imagine all your days being like that!

 

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