Writing Advice: Rainer Maria Rilke

atkins bookshelf quotations“Nobody can advise and help you, nobody. There is only one single means. Go inside yourself. Discover the motive that bids you to write; examine whether it sends its roots down to the deepest places of your heart, confess to yourself whether you would have to die if writing were denied you. This before all: ask yourself in the quietest hour of your night: must I write?”

From Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. The book is a collection of ten letters that Rainer Maria Rilke wrote (from 1902-08) to a 19-year old aspiring poet named Franz Kappus. Kappus was struggling with a career choice: to be a poet or an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Kappus published the letters in 1929, three years after Rilke died. Subsequently, Kappus pursued both goals; he served in the military for 15 years and became a writer, writing poems, short stories, novels, and screenplays.

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