So, You Want To Be A Writer?

Charles Bukowski  said it best. 

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

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13 thoughts on “So, You Want To Be A Writer?

  1. Fantastic submit, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector don’t realize this. You must proceed your writing. I am sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!|What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & assist different customers like its aided me. Good job.


  2. I completely get this, VC. Completely.

    I find myself composing text in my head–even when I have no access to a keyboard or pen and paper. I actually see the words that form in my head.

    Bare thee hence to an apothecary, then Ms. Kendrick!!

    Perhaps, but I’m convinced that writers or born. It takes some time perhaps to discover this and the same applies to writers who try, but aren’t.

    Sooner or later, you’re weened from either doing it if you’re doing it disingenuously; Or if you’ve spent a lifetime ignoring that natural impulse to compose.

    You can attempt to learn theory and practicum, but I’m convinced the gift is either there or it isn’t.

    And I firmly believe that writing well is indeed a gift, on par with singing, dancing or singing, designing, etc.

    By the way, Bukowski was right on so many levels.



  3. Great quote V, I think Bukowski’s words should be the first thing taught in every collegiate English course. Some cats are not fit to write, period. You cannot go through the mechanical motions like regurgitating the force-fed information needed to be a CPA or a proctologist. Just like the Marines, writing is for the few and the brave (and those who can suffer ridicule and self-doubt without abandoning principles).


  4. This is a rule breaker.
    It could be a relief.
    Because the rules make me want to snap my pencil in half. Stomp the keyboard. Toss the notebooks.
    i almost never rewrite and this makes me feel like a criminal, an amateur.

    i want to believe him, but it seems too easy.


  5. I whole heartedly agree with Bukowski! I wrote a book that followed his mantra perfectly. The words and story could not help but be put on paper. The soul truly has thoughts that the conscious mind never knows; that book came from my heart.


  6. My God, how long have my eyes been closed? After reading all of your posts regarding Bukowski and then taking a quick Charles Bukowski tour through the halls of Google, I’m left wanting more.
    In respect to “So, You Want To Be A Writer?”, I agree with him, almost entirely. I do, however, believe that there is a lot to be said about a writing process that involves more than just a flow of words from mind to paper. Granted, when that flow is found, it is pure magic. Otherwise, when writing, particularly about past experiences, taking the time to reflect on even the smallest of details and in turn using them to color your pages can be just as magical, both for your work as well as for yourself. Though, perhaps this is what Bukowski means by, “If you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently.”


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