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‘Belief and Technique’ to Help You Stick with Your Writing

A friend sent me a copy of Kerouac’s “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose” last week.  He said that Confident Writing had made him think about it (I was flattered).

Looking at the list I could see quite a few that would help me to keep going with my writing.  That would help me to hold on to my writing voice.  To persist with finding the words for those things that I want to say: funny, sorrowful, beautiful, truthful all.

Here are some that made me feel more tenacious:

kerouac by debaird on flickr1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

Are there any from Kerouac’s list that you’d choose as a reminder to keep going, and write tenaciously?

Photo Credit: kerouac by debaird on Flickr

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  1. Brad Shorr says:

    Hi Joanna, Enjoy your travels! #7 resonates with me; don’t understand #8. What do you think he’s getting at? If JK said it, it’s worth listening to.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Is Your Company Ready for Social Media Marketing?

  2. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Hi Joanna, enjoy your travels. I love Kerouac and several of these resonate with me but I love #5. So often my block may come from an intention to write for a specific thing - article, post, brochure but here Kerouac challenges us to forget the form and allow the writing to shape itself. As I read, I could recall pieces that began as one thing in my head but took their own form when I let go of them. Those have been some of my best pieces of writing. Great list Joanna!

    Karen Swims last blog post..Learn to Love Self-Promotion - Part I

  3. Tonya says:

    Great article - and perfect timing too. My spirits have been flagging lately, as far a writing those. Every item on that list is exactly what I needed to remember. I think I’ll go seek out a copy of that book too.

  4. --Deb says:

    Somehow (don’t ask me how), I’ve never actually read Kerouac … maybe I should!

    -Debs last blog post..Pet Names

  5. Robyn McMaster says:

    Joanna, somehow I needed these words. I have not been able to write today. I’m just waiting for a seed to germinate.

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Say Congrats to Ellen Weber - New USA Citizen

  6. David Atkinson says:

    Hi Joanna, enjoy your travels. it’s #24 for me to keep going, and write tenaciously? No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge.

    Great list of reminders Joanna.

    David Atkinsons last blog post..If You Ask Me…

  7. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says:

    #24 No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
    #29 You’re a Genius all the time

    The first because I do fear it and need pep talks sometimes.

    The second because I know I’m a Genius and yet forget it sometimes.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Hiding from the world: Dave Navarro interview

  8. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Brad found wifi to check my e-mails so happily find myself among friends :-) Travelling a mixed blessing… maybe a post sometime on the experience. #8 to me means write as deep, as dark and as low as you want to - from the recesses - without worrying about where it’ll take you or where you might fall, writing without concern for form, limits or edges, not fearing you’ve got to the bottom, allowing yourself to go where you need to go… Don’t know - it definitely resonates with me! In some ways I’d see it as the correlation of #7

    Karen 5 is interesting isn’t it? Sometimes it’s good to start with a specific form - our creativity responds to it - but I like the fearlessness of saying don’t worry about finding the right form. The feelings, the ideas, the passion, the sorrow, the wonder… the words will all find their way out in the end

    Tonyahello. I’m glad that list hit the button for you. Me too. I keep on reading and re-reading it and feeling the breath of writing, and life, flowing back.

  9. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    -Deb you mean with all that reading you’ve never read any Kerouac? Well, seeing as we’re doing confessionals, me neither

    Robyn I am glad. I find that list just… awesome. It’s a bit like Erikson’s artfully vague language - we can take from it precisely what we want or need to hear. Been thinking about you recently - reading a book about music (and the brain) and trying to learn as much as I can about the art of memoir writing.

    David isn’t that just the most astonishing sentence? I wish I could send that in a letter to everyone, across the world. Put down your fear and shame - celebrate the dignity of your experience. What would the world look like if we all truly believed that?

    Alex That #24 is something else isn’t it? After a round of beating myself up about the ‘adequacy’ of my life lived to date… I will practice no fear and shame, valuing the dignity (what a powerful, simple word) of my experience. You too, I hope.

    And yes, you are indeed a genius - good to be reminded of it, because I know you’ll head off and remind several hundreds of others about the geniuses they are too ;-)

  10. Janice Cartier says:

    #21 and #24
    Being tenacious about what is truly inside and bringing that out, there’s a truth and a poetry to that for all times. I think we sometimes censor our own authority too freely.

    I love Kerouac…when you get a chance go to this post and watch the video of him reading his own work .

    Good travels. This post was a gift and a reminder this morning, Thank you, Joanna.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Beauty And The Buck

  11. Jamie Grove - How Not To Write says:

    “Blow as deep as you want to blow”

    That’s the way I live and the way I write. I’m all about that!

  12. Tumblemoose says:

    Joanna - safe journey.

    I’ve not read any of this, but it is getting added to my to do list.



    Tumblemooses last blog post..Keep Your Copyrights: Don’t Sell the Farm

  13. Gennaro says:

    “Something that you feel will find its own form”

    I really like that concept. I tend to write content within a formal structure. It’s worth noting and trying to let the content and the feeling it comes from determine the form.

    Kerouac’s On The Road was one of several books that inspired my early travels.

    Gennaros last blog post..Free Entertainment In Las Vegas

  14. Debbie Yost says:

    I had no idea who this guy was, but I clicked the link and this is what I found:

    10. No time for poetry but exactly what is

    As I’ve said before, me and poetry just don’t mix!

    Hope you are having a fun and safe trip.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Magic Marker Monday - You Tell Me

  15. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Janice, that #21 is quite something… and yes, we do censor our own authority too freely. Doesn’t mean writing or painting crap… but that when you dig deep into the reservoir something good, and true, and important normally comes up. I will indeed check that out when I get home. Travelling is busy… found a wee township called New Orleans to the south of here - if I get time I’ll go and take a pic for you

    Jamie that’s brilliant. I might come close, sometimes, to writing that way, but living… still some way to go.

    George hope you find some words here that resonate. I don’t know if it was just the mood I was in… some of them hit me square between the eyes

  16. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Gennaro, there’s a time and place for form - and it can help us find words we didn’t otherwise know were there. But I like the idea that the ‘other’ stuff will find its way out.

    As for your other comment… you’re making my feet itch to go travelling again…

    Debbie ‘exactly what is’… hmm, there’s a thought about your blog for you ;-)

    I know what you mean about poetry - but there are times when I think that poetry tells it more like it is than anything else. Not all of it, but some, for me. I think it’s the absence of excess words.

    Anyway, glad you found a line that did it for you :-)

  17. Lillie Ammann says:

    Hope you’re enjoying your travels.

    I’ve awarded you the Premio Dardos Award. No need to acknowledge - just wanted to recognize your blog.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..The Premio Dardos Award

  18. --Deb says:

    I’ve TRIED reading Kerouac but never seen to have the patience he requires.

    Oh, and I ALSO awarded you the Premio Dardos award. Just because!

    -Debs last blog post..Premio Dardos

  19. Terry says:

    I have to say I’m with Deb (just above) here. It’s certainly an interesting list, but my patience wore thin as I tried to “get it”.

    Of course #29, “You’re a Genius all the time” was encouraging. But as for much of the rest, I have no idea. I’ll probably go back and read it again when I feel like pondering something.

    Terrys last blog post..The Nagging Little Critic and the Cherokee Wolf Legend

  20. Janice Cartier says:

    Joanna- ooh, claps hands in excitement.. that could be cool looking!
    Deb and Terry- Kerouac is a time and a place and a state of mind… you can listen to him on that link I inserted. Beat is worth investigating… if you think about how “street” evolved and hip hop…it’s a similar thing…Manhattan, the left bank of Paris… times of exploration.. and just heading out….shifts against, or searching for what is true for me… stuff like that.. like a pulse.. or a heart beat. He’s probably an acquired taste…but he is very very real… Hunter S. Thompson did the road trip too and and lots of other Excellent Adventurers since…a specific truth at a specific time and place…listen to the music of him.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Room To Play

  21. Janice Cartier says:

    Here. Here’s the utube link . The other link is blank for some reason. But I would love to know what you think after listening.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Room To Play

  22. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Lillie and -Deb thanks so much for that award - two in one day was great! -Deb, looks like I should give it a go and see how I get on…

    Terry thanks for the honest feedback. I think maybe it was just the frame of mind I was in last week - just seemed to hit the nail on the head for me

    Jan ‘fraid I didn’t get to New Orleans this time, but back in the area next week so will try again then. Thanks for sharing the link to the video - it did make sense hearing it read… with the beat, like you say… like a pulse.

  23. tt says:

    Agree with your list, but I’d also add:

    22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better.

    Always fascinated with Kerouac’s writing. I think too many don’t get past the Beat image (or his screwed up personal life).

    Thanks for the blog. I find it useful. And enjoy your travels…

  24. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    tt, thanks, that’s an interesting one… although I find it a bit hard to fathom. I’ll turn it around in my mind for a bit.

    Thanks for the feedback and good wishes.

  25. wilson says:

    Yep, we should keep our belief on our writing, Joanna. As once we lost it, it’s hard to find the faith and self-believe again…

    wilsons last blog post..Color will affect Your Children’s Health!

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