scheduleIn 1932-1933, while working on what would become his first published novel, Miller devised and adhered to a stringent daily routine to propel his writing.

While working on his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller devised a stringent daily routine to advance his writing. This is his 1930s blueprint for productivity.


If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.

If in fine fettle, write.

(Now if you wondering what a fettle might be: according to the British Dictionary a fettle is state of health, spirits, etc  We’d probably say mood today.)


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.

I love his additional note for the evenings:

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.

(In our 21st century vocabulary, we’d probably change Library to Internet or Social Media.)

His daily schedule points out to things:

Prolific writers write every day.

Prolific writers write most of the day.

I can only wish I had such discipline.

What do you think about Miller’s tight schedule?