Henry Millers’ Comandments

HenryMillerIf you are at all familiar with Henry Miller you will have to admit that he seemed like a, well… freewheeling kinda guy, to say the least.
I mean, aside from being one of the most controversial authors of the 20th century, he was married 5 times and lived as an expat in Paris in the 1930’s drinking and carousing with the likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was during this period that he wrote several of the most sexually explicit novels of our time, including ‘Tropic of Cancer’ (think Seinfeld), so explicit in fact that they were actually banned in the USA until 1961.
So, it may surprise you to learn that this free wheeling bohemian, who essentially paved the way for the ‘Beat Generation’, lived by a set of 11 commandments, which he worked up while writing his first novel in 1934 in Paris and continued to live by until he died in 1980 in California.
These ‘commandments’ were basically aimed at keeping his writing on track, however, if you extrapolate only slightly, they could serve as guidelines for life itself.


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.


4 thoughts on “Henry Millers’ Comandments

  1. I agree with this guy, but my interpretation and extrapolation boils down to merely 2 points with which you may (or may not) agree that this is what he is saying:
    1 – Do what is most important first and stick with it until finished (unless you are unable to do so then see point 2)
    2 – Do whatever the fuck you want including booze, drugs and women add song, and in whatever order you want. (Until finished, or not) then go to point 1 (or 2)

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