Culture Criticism Observations

Writing, writing, and more writing

Holstee Manifesto

One of the greatest sources of inspiration is Brain Pickings, founded by Maria Popova. The site recently posted The Writing Commandments of Henry Miller. They definitely serve as a great way to approach a writing practice, which comes in as a handy reminder for someone like me. I also posted the Holstee Manifesto, which you can view on Popova’s site as well. There’s a rumor Popova is visiting San Francisco this weekend! I really (really) want to meet this woman and hoping she makes an appearance. In any case, I wanted to snag her post, Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing & Daily Creative Routine. Did I mention I want to meet Maria Popova? Oh, yeah, I did. Enjoy the post (thanks to Brain Pickings!)

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The Writing Commandments of Henry Miller

  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.

Under a part titled Daily Program, his routine also featured the following wonderful blueprint for productivity, inspiration, and mental health:


  • If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.
  • If in fine fettle, write.


  • 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.

Note: 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.

By Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, technology, race, and ethics. She is a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. She received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts and holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Her work as been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Her writing appears in art21, Art in America, Ars Technica, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open Space. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the Executive Director for the Processing Foundation.

8 replies on “Writing, writing, and more writing”

You’re very welcome. I had to post this sooner versus later. I’d like to think I have a decent writing practice BUT stuff like this comes along and I’m like…damn, I need to step up my game. It’s also a sobering reminder that to really be a writer, there are many sacrifices one ought to make to see the completion of any project. I write because it’s in me and over the years, my art and writing heroes never cease to amaze me with their sage wisdom on the craft. I’m excited about the future and really love sharing the things, the places, and the people that inspire me. Thanks again for enjoying and being excited as well. I really appreciate it. 🙂

As reading this I observed that it could apply to any creative craft. I write code, not prose, but it was exactly what I needed to read this morning ;). Thanks for sharing and setting the pace for the rest of my day!

No worries, Jake! Thank YOU for dropping by and commenting. Very much appreciated. Writing (programming and coding included) definitely require discipline and practice. In looking closely at all of the programmers, creative coders, and technologists looking at complex ideas through an artistic lens has been extremely eye opening and wonderful for my art practice. Again, if you run into anything or have any ideas you would like to see covered on my blog, please let me know. Again, many (many) thanks for your support.

The best Tag Cloud I’ve seen yet…!

As for Maria Popova, I have no doubt meeting you will be her celebration, forging a bond of kindred spirits between yourselves.

You know what they say: “It takes one to know one!

The Holstee Manifesto is even better than a tag cloud, you can purchase the print. One of my dear friends has this hanging on the wall at his place and it’s an amazing reminder of pursuing your dreams, goals, and aspirations. I’m thinking of making a purchase and having it framed!

As for Maria Popova, she dashed out to catch a flight. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch her. That woman is FAST! Lightening bolt fast BUT I’ll meet her one day. Either way, I’m stoked that she was one of the judges for the Art Hack at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. It was a great weekend filled with arts and tech…so, naturally, my kinda weekend. 🙂

Thank you so much for commenting and following! I really look forward to reading your work and exchanging thoughts. 🙂 I’m happy this particular post was a new source of inspiration for you too.

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