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Do you want to be a writer? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Do you want to be a writer?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
User avatar
DrG2
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Posts: 2714
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:13 pm

Do you want to be a writer?

Postby DrG2 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:22 pm

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.

User avatar
allz28
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Posts: 1433
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Location: Little Rock, AR

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby allz28 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:07 am

Thanks for this. I'm surprised I haven't read it before. Gotta love Bukowski.

User avatar
mammamaia
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Posts: 7151
Joined: Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:39 pm

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby mammamaia » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:40 pm

i can't stand his stuff, but this is one i can give a major "BRAVO!" to, though it's hard for me to believe he wrote it... :o
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James A. Ritchie
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Posts: 4257
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:31 am

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:46 pm

I prefer Samuel Johnson's advice. "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

I don't believe in being chosen, I believe in choosing.

That advice, I think, goes against itself. It's extremely pretentious. Writing is just something we choose to do, and if we have talent, we do it well.

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.


Seriously? It's just writing. It's like knitting, or building bird houses. If I thought not writing would drive me to madness or suicide or murder, I'd seek psychiatric help, and if I had a sun burning in my belly I'd grab a handful of antacid.

I write because I'm good at it, and it's an enjoyable form of making money. Beats heck out of digging ditches.

bjamison71
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Posts: 90
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:47 pm

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby bjamison71 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:38 am

[quote="James A. Ritchie"]

That advice, I think, goes against itself. It's extremely pretentious. Writing is just something we choose to do, and if we have talent, we do it well.


I agree with James! Writings such as this tend to make me second-guess myself, which brings my writing to a stand-still. While I've yet to have my work published, I have gotten some very positive feedback from several agents, and I feel confident that I possess at least some talent in this area. But I also know that, in certain circles, I would be considered a mere "wannabe", simply because I haven't read all the Classics and such. Plus, I write Romance, which many seem to consider the bottom of the food chain as far as writing goes. But that's okay, and I will continue to write regardless of that, but I do wonder at the arrogance of it all sometimes.

p.s.--I also love country music and garden gnomes, so... yeah. :lol:

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shadowwalker
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:10 am

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby shadowwalker » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:49 am

Yeah, I'm with James on this one. Frankly, I get so tired of hearing about people who are "passionate" about their writing. I prefer people who just like doing it, have some measure of talent to do so, and are quite willing to put into it some of that effort Bukowski apparently abhors.
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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cosivantutte
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Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:53 pm

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby cosivantutte » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:45 pm


User avatar
MookyMcD
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Posts: 1446
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:45 pm
Location: Boise, Idaho

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby MookyMcD » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:56 pm

I think a better title for that would be "I can't hear you over how awesome I am."

By his definition, my favorite author is not a writer. Good thing the Nobel and Pulitzer committees had a different definition.

Em_Lawrence
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Posts: 54
Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:28 pm

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby Em_Lawrence » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:22 pm


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nhope
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Location: Seacoast, NH

Re: Do you want to be a writer?

Postby nhope » Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:21 am


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