1.) At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I am on a planet traveling through space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me, which I am given the privilege to interpret by my writings.
2.) Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe a story being written by some great author which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the paralyzing cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell on his deathbed when he said: “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.” This hope will inspire my writings, and lend them a power and grace so as to touch the lives of my fellow human beings.
3.) I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities for my writings. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parenthesis’s in my existence, but just as likely long roads to be traversed, guiding me to my full humanity while suffusing my writings with truth and clarity.
4.) I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. Reality is that which breathes life into my writings; without it they ring hollow. I shall know exactly what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall have to do often.
5.) I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of other writers. I shall stop boring into myself seeking to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and lose myself within the joys and ecstasies of my writing.
6.) I shall open my eyes and ears. Once a day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply to be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what C.S. Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying, and ecstatic” existence.
7.) I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of pure unclouded brow/ And dreaming eyes of wonder.”
8.) I shall follow Charles Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as C.S. Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music. For by such references do we writers take part in our heritage and hear the voices of those great masters who have preceded us. No man ever succeeded without knowledge of those who preceded him.
9.) I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, “fulfill the moment as the moment.” I shall hoard my precious energy and time, that I might spend it lavishly on my writings and those I love dearest. I shall try to live well in the moment, because all that practically exists to me is the now.
10.) I shall build my life on the assumption that life is not idiotic, but that today, this very day, I may add my own brush stroke to the cosmic canvas the universe is attempting to create. My writings, however insignificant they might seem to others, add their small part in the Great Conversation the human race is engaged in, and I can be proud of that fact.