So You Want To Be A Writer? By Charles Bukowski

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
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 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-
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 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.

Depressing, right? Well, no. It works like reverse psychology.

Every time I read “Don’t do it”, everything in my soul cries out “screw you”. I do not write under the perfect circumstances. Sometimes the writing flows, sometimes it doesn’t. I have difficult days and I have brilliant days, but I know I want to do this. I want the struggle. I want the blank page. I want the blinking cursor. I want to write.

No one will tell me how to do it or what it should be like. It works for me. I am learning. I am growing. I don’t have a tea-toting wife who brings me sarmies between scenes. I fight for every minute I spend writing. But I will keep fighting. I will keep writing until it is ‘truly time’. I will do it.

So screw you, Charles. Stephen King said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” Or I can go all Nike on you and say, “Just do it.”

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Mia Botha

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This article has 0 comments

  1. Alana Falk

    Haha, great. I write novels for a living and I was preparing a great big angry reply in my mind while reading this, when you took my words right out of my mouth with your thoughts at the end. Writing is hard work and I would say, if you´re not prepared to do it even on days when you hate it, even when it´s hard and devastating, being a full time writer and making a living with it is not for you.

  2. Yuvrajsinh

    Mia,

    This is awesome.

    Got change from our regular posts.

  3. Marsha Lackey

    I shared this and would like to keep a copy in my writing folder. Will you please email this to me? Thank you!

Comments are now closed.