so you want to be a writer?
Charles Bukowski, 1920 – 1994

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.


This expresses everything I feel about writing. Sometimes I think it comes too easily, but that is the whole point.

12 thoughts on “

  1. I went ten years with a silent muse, the words just trickled up and ran dry on me, once in a while a few would jump out. Then BAM, I’m helpless and hopeless and a slave to my pen again. I’m happy I didn’t force words that weren’t meant to be all those years and instead got out and lived life. That ten years was hardly wasted, it’s now rich soil capable of germinating all sorts of seeds.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Yes, this really struck a chord with me. I sometimes feel self conscious about how easily I can write. Also that I waited for so long to do the kind of writing I do now. Yes, I’ve made a living writing for forty years but the kind of writing I’m doing now is very different.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Daniel. I am grateful for your writing.

    Bukowski’s words helped me. Yesterday, I wanted to write about a particular topic. I knew what I wanted to write; however, the words would not come. Writing, at the time, did not seem right. I sat there looking at the screen and clicked off and walked away.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Daniel: Lovely use of language, bursting roar and your images are so visual, rocket out of the soul, the yawning libraries, the sun inside burning the gut. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and re-reading this poem. Thank you. It’s ok if it comes easy to you. Practice, experience and hard work does pay off. Kind Regards Cheryle

    Liked by 1 person

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