Should I be a Writer?

Rilke writes letters to an aspiring writer much like yourself. I’m not a Magic 8 Ball, but I do have some insight from his book.

The book is compiled of letters Rilke writes in response to a young poet who asks for an opinion about his writing. Apparently the young poet has asked others for their opinions on his writing, and is generally over concerned about what people think of his poems. Rilke tells the poet:

“You compare [your poems] with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. . . . I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. . . . Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all– ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night:  must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if  this should be affirmative, if you meet this earnest question with a strong and simple ‘I must,’ then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.”

That’s a big chunk, I know, but isn’t it a tasty bit of truth to chew on?

If you’re wondering whether or not you should be a writer, perhaps the question you should ask instead is, Am I Writing?

Even writers with demanding day jobs find the time to write  something. If writing is in you like tree roots in a ground, to borrow from Rilke’s analogy, than nothing will stop you from writing. This need has actually lead several writers, like me, to leave their day jobs and pursue their passion full-time.

If you aren’t writing anything at all, maybe your answer is Not yet. If the answer were just a flat out NO, you probably wouldn’t have even asked the question. But since you are asking, maybe you should become a writer once writing has taken root in you–when you’re too busy writing to stop and wonder if you should be doing it.

Click the link to get your own copy of the book.