Have a Glass of Sherry

Maya Angelou, a well-established writer and poet, has her own way of performing a writing routine. There are certain things she does that make her feel more confident about what she’s about to produce. For instance, she does something with her hair. It’s a habit, of sorts.
“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.”
She also finds that a change of scenery helps her writing. She, unlike many other writers, does not always stay at home to write.
“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 Bible.”
She keeps small distractions around her, such as crossword puzzles or a deck of cards, to occupy her “little mind,” as she calls it. This little mind was the opposite of the “Big Mind,” which allowed for deep thoughts and helped her write. After she is done using the hotel room, she goes home and edits whatever she’s written that day. She doesn’t stay the whole day, she says, just until around two in the afternoon.
She used to drink sherry while in the midst of writing, thought she stopped doing that a few years ago.
The most notable part of her writing process, however, is her hotel room. It’s unique and has made her infamous for it. She requests that it is bare, another odd aspect of her process.
“I don’t want anything in there. I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything. No milkmaids, no flowers, nothing. I just want to feel and then when I start to work I’ll remember.”
Angelou’s writing habits have clearly worked for her, as she has become a very popular author, even after her death. They just go to show that you don’t need to follow an orthodox process in order to write a successful piece.



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