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Well, Uncle Charles Bukowski — I’ve done my best. Nothing else I do seems to work out, either. Might as well write about it.


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 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.

–Charles Bukowski

Some will differ with what he says. There’s enough in it to offend just about everyone’s sensibilities.

But keep this in mind: If you try to force something, it wasn’t meant to be. The urge to write (or paint or sing or dance or whatever) comes first. Then the hard work to hone the craft. But the undeniable urge needs to be there first.

There are those who think they can just put in the hours and get something at the end to compensate for those hard hours. That’s how an accountant thinks. But no — you’re an artist. Do what you are and struggle to find the money you need to keep doing it. If you’re very, very lucky–you might have enough left over to eat.

So, no: The ancients talked about muses because the urge comes from elsewhere. It’s irrational. You just need to do it. You’d do it even if it didn’t pay a dime. If it cost you to do it, you’d find the money to go on doing it. If it resulted in you getting driven out of your home and shunned by friends and relatives, you’d still do it. You’re doing what you are, you undercover Nietzschean. Just say ja. You’re a bolt of lightning.

You are what you do.

Rock on, Chuck.

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It’s not up to his standards, but I think it’s pretty good. Check out my debut novel at

photo credit: waltarrrrr via photopin cc