The Maya Angelou Method

One of my heroes, the renowned writer, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, had a peculiar writing process.

She would wake up early in the morning and chick in a hotel room. She would specifically instruct the staff to remove any artworks from the walls.

She would then start writing at 6:30 in the morning until 12:30 in the afternoon, using legal pads and a bottle of sherry, and a deck of cards. She would then go home, before she comes back the next day and repeat the process; and by the end of the day, she would average 10-12 pages of written material.

Maya Angelou never slept in the hotel room, but did her writing ritual so to enchant herself, to access her memories more effectively, and to tell the human truth.

I don’t know with other writers, but speaking for myself I have always maintained a love-hate relationship with my craft. TBTH, writing is like that Supreme-wearing fuckboy whom you jump into an on-and-off non-relationship with, except that writing can actually provide me some comfort and solace.

Sometines I dance around the idea that maybe I should marry writing, and pursue it full-time, because you know, writing is the only thing I never really abandoned among the slew of hobbies I jump into in between my careers and phases in my life. So writing could be my one true love. Who knows?

I caught up with my friend Carl, who actually works as a full-time writer. I asked him his professional routine, and has to write everyday. I immediately balked and took back what I said.

“Even if you don’t feel like writing? That sounds like a chore,” I gasped, and concluded that I would end up loathing it if I took writing as a profession.

Still, I have been stalling a book project for months, and I would need to reignite the engine soon, whether I like it or not.

I took to Maya Angelou for some inspo. Maybe a hotel room is all I needed for my art…

The opportunity for my own writer’s retreat presented itself at the right place and time, when I was invited for a weekend staycation during the launch of Citadines in Cebu City.

Citadines is not your ‘regular’ hotel–the brand is in a different niche category known as Apart’hotel, which essentially combine the best of home and hotel living.

Citadines Cebu City is The Ascott Limited’s first property to open in Visayas and Mindanao; undertaken in collaboration with Cebu Landmasters. Indeed Citadines is a premier international brand present in over 170 cities across continents.

Located smack in one of the main bloodlines of the city–in Base Line Center. Walking around the complex is already enough to fuel one’s creative juices, as you admire how well thought-out everything is. It featured the best of Cebuano craftsmanship e.g. the likes of amazing artists such as Kenneth Cobonpue, Bobby Lagdameo and Inky Livie.

Mi casa, su casa…

My hotel room was fitted with everything I needed that would make it feel like my own home–my room has its own kitchen essentials. Sure, I know I’d never have a chance to cook because of my nil cooking skills (and what’s the need to cook? Abaca is just downstairs!), it’s still nice to know I have all the essential cutlery, cookware and tableware at my or my guests’ disposal.

In ode to Maya Angelou, I copied her ritual and made my own adjustments. I took my Macbook Air (in lieu of legal pads), cheese and white wine (instead of sherry) and flexed my best Spotify playlist (because I don’t really play cards).

The rooms are spacious, with a study as well as a chill nook for my wine and cheese. The afternoon is about French Jazz.

Truly, it felt more like I was building romance and a steamy bedroom scene than for actual, productive writing. But that’s how ‘I get in the mood’, to ‘enchant oneself’. So I sprawled in bed, opened my laptop and started typing.

And then, I understood Maya. The allure is there. It felt cathartic to retreat in a hotel room. Her method actually made sense–here, I now have the space to detach one’s self from daily obligations and the familiarity of home; but also to sanitize one’s self from new sights and experiences, as these do more harm than good being such pleasurable distractions of the senses.

After three hours I had dispensed a thousand words; enough to get me famished and head down to Abaca Baking Company for some delicious Breakfast Sandwich–I know it’s no longer breakfast, and it’s way past my intermittent fasting ‘eating period’, but I thought I deserved to cheat today, to give myself a well-deserved pat in the back.

I had shamelessly copied my hero’s writing ritual, and it felt pretty good. However, I took a mental note of coming up with something for myself soon… just in case I become world-famous in the future, and so people could talk about what an eccentric genius I was…

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