“So You Want To Be A Writer,” Charles Bukowski

As many of you probably know, I have been complaining to no end about my being unable to start a new project, about being unable to move on from TRC. It’s not that I’m being lazy. I’ve spent hours outlining possible plot lines. I’ve spent hours trying to force myself to start a new novel. I’ve spent hours writing without inspiration. All these failed attempts have literally been driving me nuts. My poor sister had to witness me throwing myself onto the bed, pulling at my hair, and screaming into my pillow. Seriously. I felt that I should be prolific like other writers, being able to work on many projects, or at least writing one story per year. But I’ve finally come to accept the fact that I’m a different sort of writer with her own pace. Yes, I may be slower than other writers–it might “decrease my potential” of becoming an established writer with this slow pacing of mine–but so what? I’m not writing for the money after all. (WARNING: the following piece may be a bit offensive…but it is amazingly powerful):

“So You Want To Be A Writer,” 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.

Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder…” When I was writing TRC this is exactly how I felt. However, my attempts these days to force myself into working on a new project, has left me hunched over my laptop writing things I end up rolling my eyes at.

Like this author said, “if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently.”



Patience can be most painful. I feel like I should be busy writing. But sometimes I think it’s important to be still and wait. To wait for that roar of inspiration. And to read and live/experience life while waiting. I now realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being patient.

Speaking of patience, I received a partial request from an agent, and after I submit the first 50 pages via snail mail, I’m going to have to wait a longggg time before I get her response. It’s the holiday soon and I doubt the agent will be reading my work while going Christmas gift shopping.

13 thoughts on ““So You Want To Be A Writer,” Charles Bukowski

  1. I sympathize with you. It must be terrible when you find your mind empty, totally blank. But writing must not be a task for you, nor a duty. Think that your situation is like that of a girl desperately longing to be in love with someone or just to find a boyfriend. The more she looks for him , the least she finds one. Then, one day, by chance, she finds “him” in the most obvious place but in the least expected way,easily.


    • Oh my. Thank you so much for your answer! If you knew how VERY FRUSTRATED I still am (these feelings of hopelessness comes to me in sudden pangs) you would be grinning to know how your analogy has soothed my nerves. It goes the same with friends. The harder you try to make friends, you end up becoming an annoyance, and end up repelling people. Thank you thank you!


  2. I agree with Maria. It’s no fun when all you want to do is write and when you try you got nothin’. I’ve been struggling with that for weeks. Until a character began yelling at me. I had already introduced her, but apparently not in the way SHE wanted to be introduced. Although, she still not yelling as loud as I would like her to, but it’ll come.

    Don’t worry, June. You’ll get there. Sometimes our muse is ready and willing to provide us with our literary needs and desires…other times she plays hard to get (such a bitch. I hate it when she does that). :o)

    Congrats on an agent requesting a partial! Best of luck to you.



  3. Yay! on the partial. You never know–maybe the agent will have extra reading time because of holiday travel and will get back to you before the New Year 🙂

    The poem is very true–but only up to a point, at least for me. There are scenes I absolutely can’t wait to write, and others that excite me less. Some are “necessary evil” scenes to write–I know they have to go in, but they’re not fueled by much passion (some of them grow on me as I write, though). It’s more of an overall for me–this story, these characters have to come out. And very often I’m writing as a duty, not a passion, as it regards a certain scene or even my mood, but in writing, it starts to “roar out me.”

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Oh, I definately understand what you mean. There are always scenes to me that I must write as a duty–like the scenes that link my favorite scenes into one whole story. Discpline is required. A writer mustn’t be lazy. But even when I was in this situation I was jsut so in love with TRC that I was able to put up a fight and forge on. But when I don’t have this “roar” of inspiration–I just can’t get through the uninspires scenes. I feel like there is nothing ahead of me–no incentive. So when I read this poem I interpreted his words as a writer needing THE inspiration. And with THE inspiration I’d be able to get through anything.

      However, right now, if the characters of my new story were all to die I really wouldn’t care. I don’t feel that rush of arenaline to write.

      So I’ll wait!


      • Hehe…if you’re really frustrated with the characters of your new story, maybe you could just kill them all off in their story and start fresh 🙂 Wait, why did I type a smiley face–that’s morbid!

        Good luck–it will come!


  4. I agree with what Maria has said, sometimes the best ideas come when your not looking for them. I know this is going to sound cliche, but just empty your mind…something will pop in. But don’t worry about it too much, TRC was a phenomenal story and naturally it would take time to come up with another as good or better. Good luck and keep me posted on how your queying is going.

    -Rika Ashton


    • Awww Rika! Hello! Yes, I must empty my mind. That is a GOOD advice. because right now, if I were to write, I’d be writing TRC in disguise. I need to empty this story from my system so I can think of a new story.


  5. Pingback: Soul Meets Soul On Pen’s Tip… « June H.

    • Haha! I tend to have a morbid curiosity when it comes to agonies writers suffer–in the hopes that I might discover how they overcame it. Writerly suffering tends to be universal!

      Thanks for dropping by!


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