Monday, May 23, 2011

Charles Bukowski Quotes on Writing

Charles Bukowski was an unusual writer in that he wrote pretty much spontaneously and carried out only a very limited amount of editing afterwards (the Charles Bukowski book: Post Office was famously written in only three weeks).  This is actually much more difficult to do than it would appear.  Most writers redraft and edit extensively to achieve the final result.  That said, Bukowski had literally decades of writing experience under his belt by the time that his work really began to be noticed.  He had time to perfect his style, learn his craft, and decide which were the best stories to draw from his chaotic past life.  Because of his method for producing his fiction and poetry, Bukowski books have sometimes been grouped in with those written by The Beats: Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac, although this has always seemed like a very unsatisfactory categorization as far as I can see.  Anyway, here is my pick of Charles Bukowski quotes on writing.

"Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers."

"When a writer is swayed with his fame and his fortune, you can float him down the river with the turds."

"Without literature, life is hell."

“There is a time to stop reading, there is a time to STOP trying to WRITE, there is a time to kick the whole bloated sensation of ART out on its whore-ass.”

"Writing is something that you don't know how to do. You sit down and it's something that happens, or it may not happen. So, how can you teach anybody how to write? It's beyond me, because you yourself don't even know if you're going to be able to.”

"An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way."

"Hey baby, when I write, I'm the hero of my shit."

“Unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don't do it”

"Great art is horseshit, buy tacos."

“Bad taste creates many more millionaires than good taste.”

"You have my soul and I have your money"

One can never be sure whether it's good poetry or bad acid"

As the spirit wanes the form appears"

"It was a joy! Words weren't dull, words were things that could make your mind hum.”

"Some people have written that my writing has helped them go on.
It has helped me too. The writing, the roses, the 9 cats."

"He asked, "What makes a man a writer?" "Well," I said, "it's simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge."

"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start.”

"Poetry is what happens when nothing else can."

"If you want to create, you'll create..."

"Baby," I said, "I'm a genius but nobody knows it but me."

"When I begin to doubt my ability to work the word, I simply read another writer and know I have nothing to worry about. My contest is only with myself, to do it right, with power, and force, and delight, and gamble."

"In the morning I was still alive. Maybe I'll write a novel, I thought. And then I did."

“To do a dull thing with style-now THAT'S what I call art.”


  1. Might you know where the quote: "“There is a time to stop reading, there is a time to STOP trying to WRITE, there is a time to kick the whole bloated sensation of ART out on its whore-ass.” comes from? I can find the quote everywhere, but never the work from which it came. Any help here?

  2. Sorry not to reply sooner, anon. I can't help you sorry. I would suggest trying the forums at, someone there will tell you, I'm sure!