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so you want to be a writer? by Charles Bukowski

Sifting through the madness.

so you want to be a writer?
Charles Bukowski

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.

Comments (3)

  • This webmaster is just such a writer, I am sure, but chooses only to publish others, The choices, variety and quality of those choices has me hoping the blogger will someday reveal and share the talent and intelligence so evident in this site.

    Write on!

  • It’s so oh-so-true, and that makes me sad. I’m one of those writers that rewrites a million times, stares at blank computer screens and forces my mum to read my drivel . . . *sigh* :3

    However, I do think all the stress and time is worth it when you get something lovely-ish at the end and it rings right instead of wonky. I do so love the smell of freshly printed words.

  • This is one of my most favourite poems, and should be read to every would be poet or writer 🙂


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