Or Anne Lamott? Or Hunter S. Thompson? Or Stephen King?
The secret to learning their style isn’t just reading their books.
That definitely helps, but there’s a trick that students of writing and literature have been implementing for centuries that will teach you EXACTLY the nuances and styles of your favorite authors and writers. Without having to take university level classes. In fact, you can probably do it in about 30 minutes every day.
It’s called copywork.
Hunter S. Thompson copied F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls so he could feel what it was like to write a classic novel
I’m no master by any stretch, but I used to copy etymologies (word histories) to learn more about language. As a teen, I would carry around a notebook and jot down any words I came across that I didn’t know or found interesting. I’d then go home, looking them up in the dictionary, and copy the entry word for word.
The writing excerpts you’ll get are not going to be just classical literature. It won’t be just compelling blog posts. It won’t be just Pulitzer Prize-winning articles.
It will be ALL THE THINGS! Lots of different styles, structures, authors, tones, ideologies, genres, eras, and more.
Plus, we’ll still be working to build the community back up with calls and meetups and webinars with modern masters (sorry, I don’t think we can get Hemingway on Skype…)
1. You will get a new writing excerpt, along with a quick note about it, five mornings a week.
2. Print it out or view it right on your screen
3. Grab your handy notebook, scrap paper, legal pad, etc, and start writing
4. Have questions? Something you’re written that you want to share? Start a discussion? Head on over to the Writers on Writing Facebook group and reply on a thread or start your own
There’s no way I can set aside time every day to do this.
Bet that is what you say about your own writing as well. I know I do. Carving out 30 minutes daily to do this is a fantastic way to build a writing habit, without having to struggle for something to say.
Do I have to hand write it?
There are but a few tasks in life that you HAVE to do (breathing and eating your Mom’s or significant other’s cooking come to mind.) But so many studies have shown that you’ll get a more cognitive experience doing it by hand. In other words, it will make you think.
Do I have to do the WHOLE thing?
Please note the “Have To” conversation above. The longer you work at this, and continue to grow, the more good writing will become second nature for you. Gotta put in the time though.
Will there be (Classical, Fiction, Blog Posts, Insert Writing Genre Here) excerpts? I hate reading that stuff.
The writing excerpts will come from all genres, cause you never know what you might end up learning. Or liking. I spent half my life thinking I hated onions. Saute or carmelize them, and they’re apparently delicious!
What happens if I fall behind?
Then you catch up. Do a double dose one day. Bang out a few on the train. Eat your cereal with one hand and jot words down with the other.
How long will the excerpts be?
Most excerpts will be under 1500 words. No more listicle posts for you!
Do I have to read the additional stuff?
What is it with all the “Have To’s” around here? This isn’t English 170, there will be no grades at the end. The additional resources are just that…additional. You will learn a TON from the daily prompts as is. BUT if you want to learn more, we’ve got you covered.
What is a master class?
Per the all-knowing power that is Wikipedia, “A master class is a class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert of that discipline—usually music, but also painting, drama, any of the arts, or on any other occasion where skills are being developed.” This is called a Writing Masters Class because you’re learning from lots of masters, not just one.
Won’t I lose my unique voice/writing style?
Did you totally lose your sense of self the first time you traveled somewhere? Was Michael Jordan less of a standout athlete because he watched game tapes? Did you not make that dinner/desk/decoupaged planter because you got the idea off Pinterest? We all learn by doing, and part of that is seeking guidance from those better than we currently are. You’ll learn to appreciate the different nuances of these writers, and eventually adapt them to your own.