The Wireframe: Jack Kerouac’s Writing Techniques

Literary Kicks launches a new design and layout today. I’ll write more about that shortly, but for now I’m just glad to be blogging again after a hiatus of nearly two months. My primary goal for the new design is to allow a more natural and spontaneous flow of content on the site, and in the spirit of natural and spontaneous content, here’s a great piece of writing by Jack Kerouac: his Belief & Techniques For Modern Prose.

This thirty-point program was tossed off by Kerouac in 1958 in a private (and probably drunken) letter from Kerouac to a friend, but it has become one of his most popular texts. I think of the Beliefs & Techniques often. I didn’t have a wireframe for this new site redesign … but Jack Kerouac’s words will serve as a symbolic wireframe for what I hope the new version of the site will be.

Belief and Techniques 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 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. Don’t 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

It feels good to be blogging again! How are you all doing?

11 Responses

  1. I love this list! Years ago I
    I love this list! Years ago I printed it out and carry it with me, folded into my notebooks.

    Levi and others, have yall had a chance to check out “The Voice Is All” by Joyce Johnson (new Kerouac biography)? The SF Chronicle gave it a great review. I havn’t got a chance to dig it tho, i’m still waiting for the price to drop a bit more on Amazon. I’m doing swell, I just got a new job while you were away and I am eagerly awaiting the comeback of Action Poetry.

  2. It is good to have you back
    It is good to have you back and I’m a big fan of the redesign! Congratulations. I know how hard it is to get things to look good.

  3. Levi… better wireframe.
    Levi… better wireframe…….it’s been my writing gospel as far back as I can remember……

  4. Steve, I mentioned in a
    Steve, I mentioned in a couple of other posts that I’m still working on the new version of Action Poetry. I’m looking forward to relaunching it … still working out some ideas about the new version but I think you’ll like.

  5. …dig the site…
    …dig the site…
    **consider the melody of each line.
    **let an idea marinate.
    **if editing, edit for spelling only.
    **amuse yourself with punctuation.
    **respond to a word.
    **to remember is to forget.
    **advance, advance.
    **write as you would talk.
    **be disciplined with time.
    **avoid classes.
    **books are decoration.
    **click to publish.
    **seek to create more.
    **read all reviews.
    **make yourself laugh.
    **write your truth.
    **sneer at instigation.
    **tangents are your mind’s pathways.

  6. The world is glass.
    The world is glass. Everything you say to yr bird contradicts itself in every two sentence reach. You really have to struggle for meaning then. WOT JK novel am I talking about?

  7. AG covered it wonderfully,
    AG covered it wonderfully, extensively, in the naropa mp3 [linked below] i’d snagged. i’m too lazy to get the original naropa file link.
    while re-listening to it yesterday, i made these two short notes:
    projective verse by charles olsen
    ‘form is never more than an extension of content’

  8. Simply brilliant and wise
    Simply brilliant and wise words from the godfather of modern literature. Although some of them seem more like the beginnings of thoughts than completed ones, the message is still crystal clear. A great utility for budding writers such as myself.

  9. Thanks for reprinting this
    Thanks for reprinting this list. One of my favorite things Kerouac ever wrote. I’ve read this before, but having read it today, I now will write it out & tack it above my desk.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!