Charles Bukowski's writing routine is the least pretentious thing I've ever read.

Written by Cole Schafer


I differ from others in that I’m not afraid to change my mind.

In fact, I embrace it.

A wildly underwhelming life to me is one where we’re born with specific perspectives and world views and opinions and we die still clinging to these same perspectives and world views and opinions with our heels carving deep ruts in the Earth.

That said, I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things and Charles Bukowski is one of them. 

When I first read him, I thought he was the Ernest Hemingway of the 70s, just less polished and more abrasive. 

However, as I’ve had the chance to dive a bit deeper into his poetry and prose, it pains me to admit that he was, in many ways, a one trick pony.

You read Post Office, Bukowski’s very first novel, and I’d say you pretty well get the joke. 

Though, despite this, it doesn’t change the fact that he did what he did, well.

To use a metaphor,not all writers can be the Kobe Bryant of the NBA –– wildly versatile and lethally good at everything that takes place between those four painted lines on the hardwood.

Most writers are specialists, like a Dennis Rodman –– great at one thing. Take David Ogilvy for example, he was an exceptional writer. But, one that slung ink almost entirely in advertising.

Charles Bukowski was no different...

Some read Bukowski’s work and walk away with the impression that he was a painfully ordinary, self-deprecating, misogynistic piece of shit.

And, they’re not necessarily wrong in thinking so.

He was.

But, this is also what we have to respect most about his writing. He was unapologetically himself and he made sure everyone knew it when they read him.

He didn’t want to be misunderstood as a hero or as a romantic or as a good guy and I think this shone through in a writing style that was as honest as the day is long.

(Or, at least, as honest as one can be while writing fiction).

This honesty seeped into his writing routine, too.

And, to speak to this honesty, one day the indie poet and novelist was asked about his writing process, or routine rather.

If you’ve ever read writers write abut their routines, the answers they give are as extravagant as Oz and more pretentious than a prized cock.

Here’s what Bukowski had to say…

“I never type in the morning. I don’t get up in the morning.

I drink at night. I try to stay in bed until twelve o’clock, that’s noon. Usually, if I have to get up earlier, I don’t feel good all day.

I look, if it says twelve, then I get up and my day begins. I eat something, and then I usually run right up to the race track after I wake up.

I bet the horses, then I come back and Linda cooks something and we talk awhile, we eat, and we have a few drinks, and then I go upstairs with a couple of bottles and I type — starting around nine-thirty and going until one-thirty, to, two-thirty at night. And that’s it.”

With that said, while I don’t think any of us should strive to be Bukowski… we should use Bukowski’s work as permission to be ourselves and sure as hell not apologize for it.

So much of good writing is being honest with ourselves and those reading.

Bukowski embodied this.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer