Writing Masters Class - Craft Your Content

Writing Masters Class

Writing Masters Class

What if I told you that you could write like Hemingway?

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.

Masters Who Copied

  • huntersthompson

    Hunter S. Thompson, doing what he did best: writing whenever and wherever

    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

  • Virgil copied Homer (and Plato copied Socrates…copying your teacher’s writing was one of the only way to get their essays circulated in Ancient Rome & Greece)
  • Benjamin Franklin copied interesting newspaper articles as a teen to learn how to write for publication
  • Jack London copied the works of Rudyard Kipling
  • Donald Pollack, a later-in-life author, copied verbatim from Hemingway, Flannery O’Conner, and others to improve his grammar and structure
  • Buddhist monks hand-write ancient sutras and aphorisms again and again and again until the prose is etched in their mind

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.

What’s in it for you?

  • Helps you establish a writing habit without the pressure of figuring out what to write – Having trouble carving out time to write? The problem may not be about finding the time, it may be that you just don’t know what/how to write. (Sound familiar?) A system like this develops the habit of focusing on writing every day, until it becomes a part of your routine. Then you can focus on the writing, not the constraints around it.
  • Improve your grammar & errors – Who remembers all those rules?! After you’ve copied them a few hundred times, I bet you will.
  • Expand your vocabulary – Words are power, especially if you are writer. Think of them as your net writing worth – no one wants a paltry net worth. You don’t have to be a jerk dropping multi-syllabic distractions, but having an huge arsenal available will help you write faster (you always know how to say what you want to say!) and it will save you from all the Repetitive/Redundant marks from those picky editors.  ðŸ˜‰
  • Subliminally synthesize structure and style – Gotta love a good alliteration. Even if you may not remember what it means (using the same letter to start all/connected words in a cluster). Remember, you are writing out works that have likely been vetted through proofreaders and copyeditors and editors themselves before they got to you. Every character has been analyzed to determine whether it adds or distracts from the piece. Pretty soon, you’ll know all the tricks without even realizing you were learning them. Wax on, wax off.
  • Learn what NOT to do – I personally love Jane Austen’s writing as a fascinating study of social dynamics and human interaction. Many (most) I find kinda loathe it. That’s cool, I can’t get through a Taleb book to save my life. As you are exposed to more writers and narratives, you’ll begin to see what you really identify with, and what you could probably do without in your own writing.
  • Become a better thinker – Unless you’ve done copywork before, or maybe were educated in a one-room schoolhouse somewhere, I bet you’ve never studied writing and literature this way before. It will slow down your hundred-mile-an-hour brain (don’t worry, we’ve all got one) to pour over ideas and prose in a way that will allow you to make the connections that these masters did when they wrote them.

But what do you get?

  • Every week, for six weeks, you’ll get five copywork excerpts, delivered direct to your inbox.
  • A writing prompt once a week to apply what you’ve learned & give you an opportunity to share.
  • Links to additional articles, essays, books, and resources we’ve curated to dig deeper into the week’s theme.

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…)

How it works

Startup Stock Photos
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

Think this will never work for you?

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.

One response to “Writing Masters Class”

  1. […] selection of text from a well-written book or other written content onto paper or into a notebook. Copying the text of well-known or great authors helps the student learn different writing styles as well as improve their grammar and expand their […]