Advice from the Masters: Maya Angelou

May 29, 2014 | Better Writing

Maya Angelou’s body died yesterday. She lives in her writing.

It is impossible for me to read her work without being moved. Over the years I became fascinated with her writing process and views on how to get the work done. Here are two quotes from Maya Angelou about writing. Savor them. Learn from them.

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’…. And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”

“I know when it’s the best I can do. It may not be the best there is. Another writer may do it much better. But I know when it’s the best I can do. I know that one of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, No. No, I’m finished. Bye. And leaving it alone. I will not write it into the ground. I will not write the life out of it. I won’t do that.”

The second quote is from her Paris Review Interview (116). Read it for more about her thinking and her writing process.

Want more? Check out the complete list of Advice from the Masters posts.

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