Jack Kerouac claimed to have written On the Road in three weeks. That’s only partly true. My coauthor, Paul Maher Jr., and I tell the less marketable but more realistic story in Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
Part of the way Kerouac wrote his novels was to sit down at a typewriter and write, write, write til the story was told. There’s something to be said about this. The intensity of writing a whole novel in a short time span drives the work. It’s so easy as an author to get distracted, to start something and never complete it, to get so caught up in getting syntax correct that the story never moves forward. The “backspace” button on the computer keyboard is all too familiar to most authors, struggling as self-editors. We want to get it right. Sometimes this happens at the expense of getting it done at all.
While many would disagree, some authors believe that the key to writing is to push out a first draft. Once the backbone of the story is there on the page, the author can always go back and edit it. Most times, the editing process is the longest and most arduous. Whole sections are moved or deleted. Characters are killed off if they’re not important. Diction is tightened.
I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — this year to gain a better sense of what Kerouac went through when he wrote his books. Call it “method writing” to understand the subject of my book better.