Creative Genius: Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

Creative Genius: Jack Kerouac


Jack Kerouac: writer, novelist, poet, traveler, the father of the “Beat Generation” and one of the very few people I know of, who bent around the rules of grammar to write emotive prose, and yet, wrote perfect Haiku! The first book by Jack Kerouac that I read (and re-read) was Lonesome Traveler. It took me a few hours to adjust my eyesight to pages filled with words without a full stop anywhere in sight. But after the first few pages, I started to enjoy his spontaneous writing, which had more juice than the structured paragraphs of award winning books. The true creative genius of Jack Kerouac was not only in his writing – it just shone through his writing. His writing was the testimony to the stuff that made Jack Kerouac the iconoclast we know him as. In  Lonesome Traveler (Penguin Modern Classics):

My friends and I in New York City have our own special way of having fun without having to spend much money and most important of all without having to be importuned by formalistic bores, such as, say, a swell evening at the mayor’s ball, – We don’t have to shake hands and we dont have to make appointments and we feel all right. – We sorta wander around like children, – We walk into parties and tell everybody what we’ve been doing ad people think we are showing off. – They say: ‘Oh look at the beatniks!’

Jack Kerouac was a traveler, in every sense. He was an explorer, not only of places, but of minds, and life. He could write about anything, and it would be interesting and inspiring. What is amazing is the situations he has been in, and what he chose to write about those situations, and how. And how easily he can provoke the reader to think. In Lonesome Traveler (Penguin Modern Classics):

– And I saw how everybody dies and nobody’s going to care, I felt how awful it is to live just so you can die like a bull trapped in a screaming human ring. –

He was a thinker first, a writer second. That is why his writing is so replete with the truths he experienced in his life, with creative nuances and insightful inner dialogue. Jack Kerouac describing himself:

Had my own mind. – I am known as ‘madman bum and angel’ with ‘naked endless head’ of ‘prose’. – Also a verse poet, Mexico City Blues (Grove, 1959). – Always considered writing my duty on earth. Also preachment of universal kindness, which hysterical critics have failed to notice beneath frenetic activity of my true-story novels about the ‘beat’ generation. – Am actually not ‘beat’ but strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic…

Kerouac wrote his first novel at the age of eleven. It comes as no surprise then, that his style of “spontaneous prose” was the result of years of reading and writing alone, and inspiration from other writers and poets.


Jack Kerouac in The Dharma Bums: 50th Anniversary Edition:

I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.

What we can learn from Jack Kerouac:

  • Creativity is a blossoming, not an imposed outward expression. It is a blossoming of your being, your true self. All expression is simply a means to share that blossoming
  • The most creative ideas also sometimes sound the most crazy – and it takes time for people to accept them!
  • You cannot be creative by giving up. There has to be something inside you which incessantly moves you, inspires you to be at it. Else creativity will become nothing more than one more mood swing in your life.
  • You can be in the most un-creative of places, and still bring out something really creative. Your place in life should not be a reason for you to not be creative.

And finally, Jack Kerouac’s own list of how to write prose (and how to seek the creative in you!):

  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
1 Comment
  • Utkarsh Kumar Raut
    Posted at 18:08h, 09 December Reply

    ‘Jack Kerouac’s own list of how to write prose’ is amazing collection

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