Essentials of Spontaneous Prose (HUM470)

“Essentials of Spontaneous Prose” (1959) [pdf version: kerouac-essentials]

by Jack Kerouac

SET-UP The object is set before the mind, either in reality, as in sketching (before a

landscape or teacup or old face) or is set in the memory wherein it becomes the sketching from

memory of a definite image-object.

PROCEDURE Time being of the essence in the purity of speech, sketching language is

undisturbed flow from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on

subject of image.

METHOD No periods separating sentence-structures already arbitrarily riddled by false

colons and timid usually needless commas.but the vigorous space dash separating rhetorical

breathing (as jazz musician drawing breath between outblown phrases).“measured pauses which

are the essentials of our speech”.“divisions of the sounds we hear”.“time and how to note it

down.” (William Carlos Williams)

SCOPING Not “selectivity” of expression but following free deviation (association) of

mind into limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought, swimming in sea of English with no discipline

other than rhythms of rhetorical exhalation and expostulated statement, like a fist coming down

on a table with each complete utterance, bang! (the space dash).Blow as deep as you

want, write as deeply, fish as far down as you want, satisfy yourself first, then reader cannot fail

to receive telepathic shock and meaning-excitement by same laws operating in his own human


LAG IN PROCEDURE No pause to think of proper word but the infantile pileup of

scatological buildup words till satisfaction is gained, which will turn out to be a great appending

rhythm to a thought and be in accordance with Great Law of timing.

TIMING Nothing is muddy that runs in time and to laws of time.Shakespearian stress of

dramatic need to speak now in own unalterable way or forever hold revisions (except

obvious rational mistakes, such as names or calculated insertions in act of not writing but


CENTER OF INTEREST Begin not from preconceived idea of what to say about image

but from jewel center of interest in subject of image at moment of writing, and write outwards

swimming in sea of language to peripheral release and exhaustion.Do not afterthink except for

poetic or P. S. reasons. Never afterthink to “improve” or defray impressions, as. the best writing

is always the most painful personal wrungout tossed from cradle warm protective mind.tap from

yourself the song of yourself, blow!.now!.your way is your only way.“good”.or

“bad.always honest, (“ludicrous”), spontaneous, “confessional” interesting, because not

“crafted.” Craft is craft.

STRUCTURE OF WORK Modern bizarre structures (science fiction, etc.) arise from

language being dead, “different” themes give illusion of “new” life. Follow roughly outlines in

outfanning movement over subject, as river rock, so mindflow over jewel-center need (run your

mind over it, once) arriving at pivot, where what was dim-formed “beginning” becomes sharp-

necessitating “ending” and language shortens in race to wire of time-race of work, following laws

of Deep Form, to conclusion, last words, last trickleNight is The End.

MENTAL STATE If possible write “without consciousness” in semitrance (as Yeats’ later

“trance writing”) allowing subconscious to admit in own uninhibited interesting necessary and so

“modern” language what conscious art would censor, and write excitedly, swiftly, with writing-ortyping-

cramps, in accordance (as from center to periphery) with laws of orgasm, Reich’s

“beclouding of consciousness.” Come from within, outto relaxed and said.



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

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