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Thursday Thirteen: Essentials for Writers

November 13th, 2008 (08:37 am)

current mood: sleepy

I haven't posted in a few days, but I am still working on my NaNoWriMo novel -- though, as expected, progress has slowed considerably since I got past the part of the plot that I already had planned out. Now it's Thursday, and I haven't put up a Thursday Thirteen in months, so here is one about writing in general and the kind of writing that's encouraged by NaNoWriMo in particular. As you may remember, Thursday Thirteen is a meme for including in a Thursday blog a list that includes thirteen items of any kind, on any topic. And NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) encourages participants to stifle their inner editors so they can write with wild abandon throughout November, resulting in a novel, or 50,000 words thereof, by the end of the month.

Jack Kerouac, author of On The Road and other iconic books of the beat movement, was known for a free flowing style of writing he called Spontaneous Prose. When asked how he wrote it, Kerouac compiled a list of thirty "essentials," his own thoughts and rules for writing. I'll reprint here thirteen of my favorites. Keep in mind that this is Kerouac, who believed in eschewing niceties such as grammar, logic, punctuation, and complete sentences (see #6). In other words, typos and unorthodox phrasing are his, not mine! For the full list of thirty, see the Kerouac entry in Wikipedia.

Thirteen of Jack Kerouac's Thirty "Essentials" for Writing

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
2. Try never get drunk outside your own house
3. Be in love with your life
4. Something that you feel will find its own form
5. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
6. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
7. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
8. Write in recollection and amazement for yrself
9. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
10. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
11. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
12. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
13. You're a Genius all the time

So, there you have it. Now go and write something! As for me, I'm going to take a swim in the language sea, while visionary tics shiver in my chest. Sounds painful.