Jack Kerouac’s 30 Keys to Life & Writing.

{Tess Adamski’s Jack Kerouac tattoo by Thor at Yonge Street Tattoos.}

“Someday I’ll find the right words and they’ll be simple.” ~ Jack Kerouac 

It is said that troubled, genius, raw and lonely Jack Kerouac came up with this list of Beliefs & Techniques for Modern Prose in Allen Gingsberg‘s hotel room, a year before Ginsberg’s iconic poem Howl came to life. Ginsberg openly admitted Kerouac’s influence in his work.

Since writing is not about writing but about life, this goes out to anything that moves—fingers or heart—it all pumps blood.


Original version: 

  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

He forgot to add #31: 


“Anyway, I wrote the book because we’re all gonna’ die.”


And if, by any chance, you’re a romantic, spiritual being having some sort of a human experience (and a lover of old letters), breathe this in…

Jack to his wife Edie, in 1957:  

“I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night. 


It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside.


We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever.


Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all.


It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect.


We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing.


It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. 


I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away?


Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born.”

{Selected Letters 1957-1969} ~ Jack KerouacThe Portable Jack Kerouac


PS. “Put down the pen someone else gave you. No one ever drafted a life worth living on borrowed ink.” ~ Jack Kerouac


More writing mojo:
11 Tips & Tricks for Troubled Writers



{Creative Rebellion}



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Andrea Balt
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Professional Dream Chaser at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Mind & Body + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her in the Social Media Jungle via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her FREE MuseLetter.


  • Tanya Lee Markul
    tanya lee markul commented on September 6, 2012 Reply
    Nothing but my own confusion – AH! I love that. Thank you Crayness.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on September 10, 2012 Reply
      He was oh-so-troubled but oh-so-fascinating.
  • Joyce O'Brien-Green commented on September 8, 2012 Reply
    When my husband died I reminded him that he was my lover before he was my friend,my friend before he became my husband, as my husband he was all of these things and so much more.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on September 10, 2012 Reply
      Beautifully put, Joyce. #SadJoy
  • barryjohnjohnson commented on June 30, 2013 Reply
    inspiring , thank you
  • Zoe Quiney
    Zoe Quiney commented on September 11, 2013 Reply
    My ultimate hero and inspiration….thank you for sharing these – beautiful and troubled but true. Thank you x
  • Halli Casser-Jayne commented on May 13, 2014 Reply
    They changed life as we knew it. #The Beat Generation The Halli Casser-Jayne Show 5/14 3 pm ET #Kerouac  #history http://t.co/7K56ggVwGI

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