Jack Kerouac’s Essentials for Prose (& Online Content)

Author and poet Jack Kerouac was the master of improvisational prose, which is to say that he enjoyed a fluid writing process, heavy on the process. For those in the world of content, we’re keen on refining that process—an act that Kerouac would surely shirk at.

Still, there’s a sense of camaraderie among all us writers, and there’s a bit to be learned from every approach, especially one as successful as Kerouac’s. He was gracious to share a bit of his process in a list of 30 guidelines he called “Belief & Technique for Modern Prose.”

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You’re a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

(via)

I’m not sure I can relate all of them to online content (truthfully, I don’t fully understand all of them even), though there are plenty here to make for some really great advice and encouragement for anyone who writes, any which way.

Here’s my translation:

  1. Study your topic deeply, fully, and joyfully — Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Help others, know how to help by listening — Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. When the time comes to write, Just Write — Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  4. Use clear language — No time for poetry but exactly what is
  5. Be descriptive and complete in your detail — Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  6. Believe in yourself. You will do great work. — You’re a Genius all the time

genius

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