The British Library had an exhibition built around the original 120 foot manuscript of Jack Kerouac's ground breaking novel, 'On The Road'.
For me, there is a certain frisson at seeing the original manuscripts, sketches, etc., behind great pieces of art, across any media. It may be a romantic notion, but I feel it connects me with the creator of the work at the moment of inspiration.
But hold on a second, let's just backtrack a couple of sentences - 120 feet? Surely we usually talk about manuscripts in terms of pages?
Kerouac wrote the first draft of the novel in three weeks, taping sheets of tracing paper together in one long strip so that he could keep typing without breaking his creative flow. The manuscript is closely typed and unbroken by such writing conventions as paragraph breaks and represents a stream of consciousness from brain to hand with very little thought to editing (there are amazingly few crossings out). Unrolled, yellowing and rat bitten around the edges, it resembles a Dead Sea Scroll for the Beat Generation.
The novel took another 5 years or so to be published, as Kerouac, using the original manuscript as reference, rewrote, edited and honed it as he became a more mature writer.
However, the point I want to pull out is how he just submitted to his creative flow, not worrying at this stage if every phrase was perfectly produced (this is something I have written about before). What was important was keeping the momentum going.
Additionally, in preparing his tracing paper roll he did what he could to line up his tools and surroundings to support that blast of frenetic creativity.
A roll of paper might not work for all of us, but we all have little tricks to prepare ourselves for those moments of inspiration.
For Alexandra Harley, my Take Five guest last month, she supports her creative flow by having enough flasks of tea to keep going in the studio so she doesn't have to stop. (For Kerouac it was endless coffee.)
For me, if I am planning a workshop, a strategy or big marketing plan, I arm myself with large sketch books and multicoloured Sharpies.
What can you put in place to support you when your creativity is in full flow?
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