Laura Gonzalez


23 Feb 2012

11 Writing commandments, from Henry Miller


From ‘Henry Miller on Writing’:

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 the 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.

Posted in Blog, Writing

6 Responses to “11 Writing commandments, from Henry Miller”

  1. Nina said:

    I wonder if he stuck to any of them

  2. Laura Gonzalez said:

    I find 8 contradicts 5 a little. I don’t know how t reconcile them …

  3. Peter Blair said:

    Thank you.

    I needed this.

  4. Laura said:

    I find 7 bafflingly true. Maybe writing is not a human activity and one has to be reminded to keep human. As I am reading a Muriel Spark biography at the moment, I am in tune with the sacramental ….

  5. Peter Blair said:

    The more I have been thinking about this, the more certain I am that writing is not a human activity, and yet good writing often has a fair portion of humanity in it. Perhaps without reminding oneself to “keep human” a writer would cease having anything to write about?

    Number 11 fascinates me.

  6. Rob said:

    I am somewhat obsessed with this list (and in fact the whole ‘artist at work’ chapter in this book.

    7. is the most important, I think, and one that you don’t see so often in this kind of list.

    3. is also vital but I struggle not to be nervous even though I know it affects my work.

    5. does slightly enter ‘draught-horse’ territory doesn’t it? But how else do we get the non-creative stuff done?

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.