In case you want to be a writer

If this indeed is your (or mine) sorry state of affairs, there is no better, more true advice but the one Charles Bukowski has given us … and every day I hope to remember it:

so you want to be a writer?       Charles BukowskiPhoto credit: Michael Montfort

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.

Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

70 thoughts on “In case you want to be a writer”

      1. We are having our long rains, so every evening it is a mad dash between me and rain. I try to beat it everyday but sometimes it starts to fall at the moment am about to leave for home.
        And am doing fine

        Like

    1. Oh Waldo, indeed he did … and there is nothing in this world harder to curtail than a bluebird in one’s heart and torment in one’s soul.

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

  1. Ahhh…this and Rilke’s LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET will give a good perspective. Autumn in your soul–oh, sending you some springtime.

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    1. Thank you so much Alice … Rilke is one of my all-time favorite poets, it was him who wrote: ‘‘No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.‘ (R M Rilke).

      Thank you so much for the springtime … I do need it indeed -:)!

      Take Care,
      Daniela

      Like

  2. And that is why I am a Bukowski fan.. he lays the truth wide open
    thanks for sharing this..great reminders for us “writers”

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  3. Thank you for posting this! I often thought that the advice for dogged persistance to write every day no matter what may not fit all of us. I tried to stick it and it near killed me in a way. I think dogged persistance has its place when it comes to weeding your garden. Would love to reblog this🙂

    Like

  4. Reblogged this on ahmrita natural mental health and commented:
    This I think is great advice i you are one of those writers who just can not sit still when the weather is wam or rainy and you just ave to be out in it rather than sitting on your bum🙂

    Like

  5. I agree. I just read another blog today that was a book review of a basically the same idea. If we do what we love to do, we are giving to the world something that no one else can give and we are happy doing it. You must really love writing, Daniela because you are brilliant at it, and it amazes me that you, and others, can write so meaningfully in English, when that is not your first language. I do struggle over the words frequently, but I do have the joy. If I don’t, it doesn’t get finished. 🙂

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    1. Your comment made me smile … thank you very much -:)! I truly did not speak a word of English when I first arrived in NZ those 18 years ago … and I believe that this experience of being ‘mute’ and ‘invisible’ shaped me as a person, and as a writer, even if a budding one, in a very unique way. Writing saved me … in many ways.

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

      1. Wow! Daniela, you have done beautifully. I moved to an area where many people speak Spanish. I took some a few Spanish classes, and worked in education with experts in the language, and I can get by, but barely. In the same length of time plus a couple of years my Spanish has deteriorated rather than improved. That is the difference between not being able to communicate or learn the language and being a member of the dominant language group. You have profited greatly from your initial disadvantage, and you are now fluently bilingual, and I am still a baby speaker. Your hard works commends you. 🙂

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      1. Since I was a little girl I felt the need to write, but because many people tag you before you even show your talent I was force to do something that makes MONEY, but now after so many years with the support of my husband and my family, I’m finally doing what I like, WRITING🙂

        Like

      2. Oh that is wonderful … to have a people around who love you and support you to reach your dream! Truly fantastic … make a most of it -:)!

        All the Best,
        Daniela

        Like

    1. Hi there my friend,

      So glad you find you under the Lantern -:)! Don’t blush … the author was quite a womanizer himself … it is quite a skill I dare say!

      Thank you for visiting and commenting,
      Take Care,
      Daniela

      Like

  6. Brilliant! Very much the way I’ve always thought about all forms of creative expression🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    Rohan.

    Like

  7. Disanje je potreba od zivotne vaznosti kojoj se nitko ne odupire. Jednostavno tece ritmicki, ponekad usporeno, onda pak ubrzano, prati nasa stanja. Mozemo ga ponekad i svesno zaustaviti, ali ne zadugo.
    Onome tko je izabrao slaganje rijeci kao nacin izricaja, pisanje je kao disanje. Jednostavno mora teci i teci, u ritmu, ponekad sporijem ponekad brzem. I kad ga svesno zaustavi, ubrzo mu ponestane zraka.
    Pisem ti ovdje, ispod posta o tom vrazjem Bukowskom koji je znao kako zaroniti na dah, kako se popeti na najvise planine, i jos vise, a da se pri tom normalno dise.
    Osluskujuci tvoje disanje cujem prelijepu glazbu🙂

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  8. Really important and I’m so glad I just read this. Am into the rewrite edit of my second book and last night I was reading another author and thought, I like her scene description much better and maybe I should revisit a bunch of stuff in mine but it didn’t feel organic. This helped and I’m glad for that. Thank you. Paulette

    Like

  9. I’ve read this before, but I’m never tired of Bukowski’s wisdom. Like so many teachings, it has got me thinking; especially this line:

    “If you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it.”

    I wonder what he meant by this because normally, writers are expected to rewrite and rewrite. So many established writers have said that there is no such thing as a perfect first draft. John McPhee, in his latest article for The New Yorker—aptly titled “Draft No. 4″—said that only after a piece has been rewritten more than once does it truly achieve excellence.

    Maybe I just haven’t understood what Bukowski means.

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    1. Hi,

      I just pushed ‘publish’ for the post I have written today which includes one other great author’s views of writing and re-writing; Robert A. Heinlein, and found your comment -:)!

      Like you and many others, I used to believe passionately in the wisdom of ‘re-writings … until I read Heinlein’s words on it. I now distinguish carefully between ‘re-writing’ in a technical terms, as Heinlein explains it, as opposed to changing the basic form. In other words; changing what and how a writer meant to say it.

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting,
      Daniela

      Like

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