Writerly wisdom from three famous poetesses


As there are no two identical writers in the world, every approach to writing is unique and different. What might work for someone, might not work for somebody else. Hence, today I want to share with you some literary advice I came across, from famous poetesses, that are both inspirational and motivational.

The first is Maya Angelou. When asked in this interview, how she writes poem, this was her answer:

Like a pianist runs her fingers over the keys, I’ll search my mind for what to say. Now, the poem may want you to write it. And then sometimes you see a situation and think, “I’d like to write about that.” Those are two different ways of being approached by a poem, or approaching a poem.

You have to get to a very quiet place inside yourself. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t have noise outside. I know some people who put jazz on, loudly, to write. I think each writer has her or his secret path to the muse. I’m told one writer stands for six hours with a typewriter on a podium—he stands and types. And I know a woman who has her computer in a closet and she goes in, closes the door, and, with her back to the door and her face to the wall, she writes.

You need to develop your own little, meaningful rituals and find what works best for you to get creative juices flowing.
The next one is Dorothy Parker, poet, short story writer, critic and satirist who claims that editing is what gives value to writing:

I can’t write five words but that I change seven. Editing is vital.

Her writing is concise, edgy and carefully phrased, like in this short poem:

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live. 

And the third advice comes from young Sarah Key, best known for her bold and raw slam poetry. Young writers and poets are often the carriers of new trends and movements and this is how she sees writing poetry:

Poetry is like pooping. If there’s a poem inside of you, it needs to come out. I want people to think of poetry as more human, less sacred. You don’t have to get paid for your writing to be a writer. I know many people who work nine-to-five in a cubicle and then come home to write for themselves. Their words are often just as powerful, moving, and valid as anything I’ve written, if not more so. write a poem once a week and doodle once a day. Create something that brings you joy.

The rest of the interview you can read here. Her words are encouragement for everyone who wants to write, and you are a writer if you say you are. You need to believe in yourself and that there is no perfect writing.

I hope these tips will help you in search for your own writing muse 🙂

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