In April 1951, so the legend goes, Jack Kerouac turned up at his mother’s house, parked his knapsack and sat down to write the story of his meandering road trips. Like his free-ranging, thumb-a-lift travelling he meant to ‘do it different’. To get the thing written quick he’d found a stack of printer’s paper – eight long rolls that unwound to 3m each. These he carefully joined together to create this master scroll. The whole thing rolled up to an impressive 30m long. Feeding the end into his antiquated typewriter, he began to type, hammering out the words as quickly as he could in a seizure of jazz-crazed heaves. Fired up on espresso, cigarettes and Benzedrine, he barely stopped hitting the keys for three weeks. One long, non-stop paragraph later, he’d completed more than 200 000 words. Though prospective publishers initially mocked the manuscript, he was undeterred and On The Road went on to become his masterpiece. Now here’s the thing. Writers know all about the problems of final delivery. We’ve even got a complex named after it. Now I’m not saying you should glue a pile of A4 together or anything, but it helps to collect authors that inspire you to work, whether it’s through their words or by their deeds. It’s either that or stimulants.

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