A rather long one

So you want to be a writer?

by 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.

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4 Responses to A rather long one

  1. Esa says:

    This poem was like reading a field guide to writing verse. It was as if some of the lines were taken from my own mind. The fact that a published, and famed poet has experienced many of the same things as I have, doesn’t neccessarily mean my work is any good, but it does validate my creative drive.

  2. Delia says:

    Reading this poem gave me a feeling of deja-vu and I’m sure many aspiring writers agree with the poet. Good stories stay inside until it’s the right time for them to get out. And when that time comes, nothing will stand in their way.

  3. Esa says:

    I have heard other poets speak of their craft, and I get the impression that writing verse is not something that comes easily. But the emotional payoff upon completing one is always gratifying. At least for me.

  4. Leonard says:

    Big addict of the blog, a bunch of your articles or blog posts have seriously helped me out. Looking forward to up-dates!

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