When writing Tropic of Cancer in 1932–1933, novelist Henry Miller compiled a list of writing “Commandments.” Here are six items he put on that list:
1. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
2. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
3. When you can’t create you can work.
4. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
5. Forget books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
6. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
So you’re up and running with your novel and writing is going well—until it doesn’t. Around fifty pages in (if not sooner), most writers lose ...