Writing advice that could change your life: Jack Kerouac’s essentials for prose

Good morning (or afternoon, or evening) lovely readers! How about some writing advice from one of America’s favorite Beat poets/novelists, Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac. Or just Jack Kerouac if you’re not a twat.

Kerouac by Palumbo 2 (cropped)

He’s totally judging you, you twat

I forget where I found this list – likely in one of the many books about writing advice. I read this list (and Natalie Goldberg’s rules for writing) each morning before I write. I hope they can help you.


I’m sorry, but it’s gone. It was here, and now it’s not. It sucks that it’s gone now, but just because it’s gone doesn’t mean that it took away all the good things with it.

Whatever the loss is – a pet, a loved one, civil liberties, your favorite Netflix show, crowds of sweaty people dancing to ’80s pop – it’s important to realize that longing for the thing keeps you in the past and robs you from the present.

As I’ve come to terms with my dad’s passing, I’ve learned to let go of all the regret and guilt associated with our relationship. I believe we are made of light and love, and when he died he transformed back into that in it’s purest form – pure consciousness. One day, I realized two things as I was introspecting on this spiritual awakening journey (ugh, that might be the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written). The first was if my dad was made of love, then he wouldn’t want me feeling anything but love. Feelings like regret or guilt cannot exist in the presence of love. As A Course in Miracles states, “The guiltless mind cannot suffer for guilt is the cause of pain in any form.” The absence of guilt brings self-love. If you love yourself, you will not want to experience things that make you feel bad.

Which brings me to the second thing I realized. As my dad was no longer around, I was the only one left experiencing any regret or guilt about our relationship (or perceived lack thereof). Inspired by his love, I began the process of forgiving myself. It wasn’t easy; Karen Horney’s tyranny of shoulds reign supreme in a mind prone to anxiety. But once I forgave myself of the regret and guilt, I was able to open myself to his love, which, now that he was gone, was all around me, totally unblocked by his physical, chemical body. We’ve been talking a lot more now that he’s gone; I decided every time I saw a robin, it would be a physical reminder of his love. I’m still learning to remember the good times before his accident, but I know they’re there. I know I can find them in me when I need to.

This is what love looks like – a boy and his clown wig


We see so much every day without noticing anything. All that exists is here for you. Everything that comes your way is for you. Say yes to it.

Take your air pods out and listen in on the people around you. Be a tourist in their lives. Carry around a notebook and write down interesting things your see and hear throughout your day. David Sedaris has a whole book about just that. Turn your phone off and be present with the people around you. Don’t worry, your followers will be there the next time you post a picture of your bubble tea.

When you understand that this world was made for you, you understand that everything is here for you. Use it to improve yourself. The Universe is abundant and it wants you to have everything you want. Be open to it. Release resistance. Say yes.


In a recent podcast, Natalie Goldberg urged listeners to have the confidence that your experience is rich enough to write about. Hear this now: no one in the history of existence has ever had your unique experience. No one else can write about your experience like you can. A friend in my writers group is working on a story about a grandma sharing her love of theatre with her grandson. To hear her talk about it, I can tell this is important to her and I’m so excited for her to write it because I know it’s so inspired by her experience. I wish I could write it for her, but I know that it would be diluted. If you’d like to join our writers group, send me a message. All ages and types of writers welcome!

Remember, you exist so the Universe can experience itself

There’s no shame in not knowing something. Can you imagine how dull it would be to know everything? The knowledge you have is enough, but if you want more, it’s super easy to get it. I take it you’ve heard of the internet considering that’s where you’re reading this. Unless this was printed out for some post-apocalyptic library. In which case, I’m flattered, but please tell me Wikipedia’s list of common misconceptions also got printed.

Knowledge is one thing, but I’m astounded each day by what I don’t know. Did you know war pigeons were a thing? As the philosopher Kiedis once said, “The more I see the less I know.” The best Beatle, quoting Lao Tzu, sang , “The farther one travels, the less one knows.Rumi said, “The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore.” Andrew James Pritchard wrote in Smoke and Mirrors, “Unlearning is a very important process towards enlightenment, because in this life you will have learned wrong ways and those wrong ways that you have learned are barriers blocking you from becoming who you really are, therefore it is vital that they are unlearned.” Don’t be afraid to unlearn. All you’ll lose is your ignorance.

Whatever your experience is, I know it’s worth writing about. And if you don’t think so, consider the fourth and final essential for prose.


Do you realize, dear reader, that your being able to read these words and understand them and be moved by them is a miracle? Your existence here is a miracle. No one has ever been you, and no one will ever be you again. How remarkable is that! When you don’t love your life, you deny yourself to the Universe. I love your life, and I’ve never met you. The Universe is a better place because you are here to add your experience to it. Don’t be so selfish as to deprive us of your wonderousness. See, you’re so awesome that I have to make up new words to encapsulate your awesomeness.

How on earth do you become in love with your life? Simple – find your purpose. If yours is a sedentary lifestyle filled with shitty food, and your only interaction with humanity is porn and arguing with SJWs on reddit, chances are you don’t have a purpose. The good news is this is a great place to start. Take a good, long, honest look at your life and pick one small thing to change. It doesn’t have to be big; subbing diet Mountain Dew for regular is enough. For me, that one small thing was flossing (my teeth, not the dance). Even as I’m writing this I’m running my tongue along the backs of my teeth searching for food leftover from breakfast. Once you start improving one area of your life it will spill over into all others. Improvement doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It won’t always be easy, but it is simple – just do the work.

Take the next month and work on integrating on of Jack Kerouac’s essentials for prose into your writing life. Add a new one each week. Once you start applying them to your writing life, you’ll see that they have benefits in other areas as well.

Remember, dear reader, you are a wonder. You matter, and you are enough. Never let your mind convince you otherwise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go floss (my teeth) and quote On the Road like a twat.

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