Advice from the Masters: Somerset Maugham

May 21, 2014 | Better Writing

I discovered Somerset Maugham when Irwin Hoffman, my high school freshman English teacher had us read The Moon and Sixpence. That book led me to reading about painters, especially Gauguin, and to the rest of Maugham’s books.

Maugham wrote a lot of almost everything and was phenomenally successful. You can find several selections of his often-wry quotes on internet sites, like GoodReads. Probably the most popular quote is this one:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

That’s good, but I chose another quote that I think is more important for business writers. It comes from a letter where Maugham explains the title of The Moon and Sixpence. I think it’s good advice for writing and for life.

“If you look on the ground in search of a sixpence, you don’t look up, and so miss the moon.”

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

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