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    Don’t take career advice from Bukowski, upgrade your hustle with these authors instead.

    James Folta

    March 28, 2024, 12:49pm

    You might have seen the Tweet going around earlier this week promising to distill Charles Bukowski’s work into “opportunities to upgrade your mind.” To quote from the viral thread by a “badass creator with over a billion views”:

    “Charles Bukowski’s work will change your life forever.

    His work takes 100s of hours to read. I’ve gone through it so you don’t have to.

    11 ideas. 11 opportunities to upgrade your mind.”

    Setting aside the inane assumptions that there is no inherent pleasure in reading for hundreds of hours, and that writing is like marketing presentations in that it exists only to communicate Actionable Bullet Points, Charles “my gravestone says ‘Don’t Try’” Bukowski feels like the wrong guy to give your TED Talk. There are some pithy “burn the candle at all ends” zingers in Bukowski’s work, but I don’t know how far you’ll get with port-soaked career advice on how to brawl with your audience at readings.

    But I get it, we all want to level up our careers, so here’s some essential advice gleaned from the work and lives of a few other (better) writers to motivate you to hustle harder and get this bread.

    Marcel Proust has one lesson, and one lesson only: your diet should be rigorously efficient. If a baked good isn’t sending you careening back in time through the mesmerizing storehouse of your memories, it’s not worth your time.

    Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing can be confusing: How did we get on another planet? Why are these dragons talking? When did my left hand turn nasty? Don’t worry about all that: focus on what you can control. Find your personal lathe of heaven, and make your dreams come true.

    Honoré de Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day—what’s holding you back from guzzling that much jitter juice? If the people around you aren’t refilling your mug at all hours, you need a new circle.

    Jane Austen knew that you’ll never take the next big step in your career if you’re stuck in your old assumptions. Elizabeth Bennet would never be afraid to explore new avenues in the market—never stay wretchedly blind to the folly that is holding you back from maximizing your potential.

    Want to leave an impact on your field like Sappho?



    J.R.R. Tolkien knew that your work friends are everything. Always give your all in group projects, never be afraid to leave home for new opportunities, and be careful because some jewelry is dangerous.

    Be like Mary Oliver and let the soft animal of your career love what it loves: working non-stop. Remember the lesson of the geese: “You do not have to be good,” full stop, and you do not have to think more deeply about the things that you are reading.

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