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!


Week 5

Not much written this week as I was out for the count with some winter lurgy for a couple of days, and had my friend Jude staying with me. Something happened when I was carrying shopping bags back from the supermarket one day though. I was listening to the Stone Roses track I Wanna Be Adored when I started feeling something my main character would feel, and hearing her describe it. Not that unusual, I guess, seeing as that character is in some part based on me. But it got me thinking.

Jude once said a brilliant thing about how film scores have made us all want a soundtrack as we go about our own mundane lives, and we construct stories about the world around us and our place in it while we listen to our iPods (Discmans, Walkmans – it was a while ago).

That comment stuck with me and I remembered it as I rushed back to my flat, put the song on repeat and started writing. It's just a short passage, and I have no idea where it might go in the story (if at all), but I filed it away with my other bits and pieces of writing that aren't titled "chapter 1", "chapter 2" or "chapter 3".

Inspiration comes at funny times. Having tried whole, fidgety days in the library, I'm now trying to break up my writing into chunks of an hour or two at home, with breaks inbetween for cooking or household chores. I'm not sure it's disciplined enough for making progress long-term, and it's a little too indulgent of my tiny concentration span for my liking, but it's amazing how quickly an idea comes to you the minute you leave your desk.

Word count this week: 523 Running total: 9,306