Do you write after the family is in bed at night, or get up with the dawn while the world is still and quiet? Do you need to isolate yourself somewhere without things to distract you from the work? Or does your best work come when you are surrounded by the subjects of life, muses from the everyday world to inspire your writing?
In a 2013 interview withe The Daily Beast, Maya Angelou had this to say about how she did her writing:
I’ve read of some eccentric writing habits of yours, involving hotel
rooms without pictures on the walls, sherry, and headgear. How did you
first come upon that cocktail for writing success, and has the routine
evolved over your career?
And headgear! Ha! It was
head ties, not headgear! Well, I was married a few times, and one of my
husbands was jealous of me writing. When I write, I tend to twist my
hair. Something for my small mind to do, I guess. When my husband would
come into the room, he’d accuse me, and say, “You’ve been writing!” As
if it was a bad thing. He could tell because of my hair, so I learned to
hide my hair with a turban of some sort. I do still keep a hotel room in my hometown, and pay for it by the
month. I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a
table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the
Anything else in the hotel room?
Usually a deck
of cards and some crossword puzzles. Something to occupy my little mind.
I think my grandmother taught me that. She didn’t mean to, but she used
to talk about her “little mind.” So when I was young, from the time I
was about 3 until 13, I decided that there was a Big Mind and a Little
Mind. And the Big Mind would allow you to consider deep thoughts, but
the Little Mind would occupy you, so you could not be distracted. It
would work crossword puzzles or play Solitaire, while the Big Mind would
delve deep into the subjects I wanted to write about. So I keep the
room. I have all the paintings and any decoration taken out of the room.
I ask the management and house-keeping not to enter the room, just in
case I’ve thrown a piece of paper on the floor, I don’t want it
discarded. About every two months I get a note slipped under the door:
“Dear Ms. Angelou, please let us change the linen. We think it may be
moldy!” But I’ve never slept there, I’m usually out of there by 2. And
then I go home and I read what I’ve written that morning, and I try to
edit then. Clean it up. And that’s how I write books!
Do you still drink sherry when you write?
Not so much anymore. I stopped about two years ago.
(And this last bit, because I kind of love it)
What would you like carved onto your tombstone?
[Laughs] “I did my best, I hope you do the same.”
See the original article here: