So You Want To Be A Writer?

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything,

don’t do it.

Unless it comes unmasked 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 typewriter searching for words,

don’t do it.

If you’re doing it for money or fame,

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 else,

forget about it.

If you have to wait for it to roar out of you,

then wait patiently

if it never does roar out of you,

do something else.


If you 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 or boring and pretentious,

don’t be consumed with self-love.

The libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep 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 you have been chosen,

you will do it by itself and keep on doing it until you die or it dies within you.


There is no other way


And there never was

Charles Bukowski

Isn’t this the truth when it comes to writing? It isn’t about the money or fame, it is about the small voice inside that is burning to have a story told to the world. It is about expression and finding our voice for the story to be told.

Do I agree with everything this poem has to say? No. But the essence of it resonates with me as a writer. Writing isn’t a simple task even though others might think that. It is just like any endeavor that one takes on. It is filled with good days and bad, obstacles that have to be overcome and a persistent drive to never surrender.

It is a battle with the greatest foe of all, the mind. Where creativity, knowledge and expression come into one place, through the written word. Through countless defeats and persistent effort one may find their voice, the most coveted aim of them all. For that voice will reverberate with the reader and imprint into the soul.

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