Writing Advice: For Your Own Joy

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Once a person settles on writing as their chosen craft, it becomes work to them. Before that, writing may have been an escape, a passionate exercise in self-expression, or simply a fun activity. But when you’ve chosen it as your path in life and you begin to get more serious about earning money by doing it, writing may become less fun. I’m sure there are those people out there who are able to keep both the fun aspects of writing and the more professional aspects of writing in their lives. But I think for most of us, this is a struggle. When there are deadlines whizzing past your head and guidelines bogging down your creative process, it can be easy to forget why you loved writing in the first place.

When this happens, I think it would be good for us all to remember some words of advice from Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road. In a fantastic Brainpickings article entitled Jack Kerouac’s List of 30 Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life, Brainpickings editor Maria Popova lists these 30 beliefs and techniques, all of which are excellent and we should all keep in mind. But the very first one seemed particularly awesome to me.

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy.

What a great idea, right? It could simply be put as “write for yourself and write for fun,” but Kerouac makes it more interesting, of course. I love that he describes “secret notebooks” and “wild…pages.” And he’s only written “yr,” as though he was years ahead of himself in terms of text speak, or as though he was so busy with those notebooks and typewritten pages that he wanted to get back to them as quickly as he could and so abbreviated his own thoughts here.

I think we would all do well to remember Kerouac’s advice from time to time. Of course, writing for publication or writing to get paid always has its place and is very important if that’s how you make your living. But you have to remember to take a step back from that kind of writing and, instead, focus on those scribble, secret notebooks that you keep.

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

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