On Writing

Lesson 5 Chapter 2 Module 2

The whole idea for this series of learning about writing and literature through copywork came while I was re-reading Stephen King's book, On Writing.

An alumnus of my alma mater (how's that for a lot of Latin in a little space!), I've carefully studied King's writing career and craft for as long as I can remember. They teach courses on him at the University of Maine. I recommend that anyone looking to start writing seriously pick up his book.

On Writing is not a fast read (about 275 pages), but it is an easy one to adapt to your busy life. The chapters are short, some not more than 700-1000 words. Great for reading on a commute or as a break between other books.

It starts with a memoir of his journey as a writer. From being a child shuffled city to city, to his teen years writing for newspapers and magazines, to college and his first book deals, to addiction and struggling to find his voice again after it wasn't fueled by alcohol and cocaine—the book is a great read for anyone looking to understand the mindset of becoming a writer.

Today’s excerpt is about the first story King ever wrote (and the copywork he did to learn how!) If you aren’t familiar to the idea of copywork and the ways you can learn from it, this is a good example of the ways you can use others’ writing and stories to learn more about your own voice and style.

It seems a bit counter-intuitive, I know, to think that you will learn more about how to become a better writer by copying others. Pretty much 80% of the articles out there on writing and creativity implore you to “stay true to yourself” and “never try to be someone else.” Which is all sound advice—unless you are still trying to figure out who you want to be as a writer and how you want to do it.

We’ve also included your first “Extended” lesson, for folks who are feeling ambitious and/or have some more time to devote to the lesson today. Or, if you just want to read a bit more from a great book on writing!

You can find this “Extended” lesson as a downloadable PDF just below the official lesson embed, before the Further Reading links.

It is a bit of a tough-love pep talk to the reader who wants to become a writer. To fall in love with reading and learning and language and improving your craft, and to dedicate yourself to it if you want to be serious about this.

Sorta like this course.

So settle in and enjoy your daily copywork.

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