Why Being A Copycat Can Be Good For Professional Writers

Have you ever wondered how artists end up as artists? Here's something that you may not be aware of yet: they copy other artists. This concept applies to all kinds of artists, actually – musicians end up (sometimes unconsciously) copying another musician's guitar riff, a writer mimics another writer's technique, an artist starts drawing the way another artist draws. It's natural, and there's nothing really wrong with it because it's part of your development as an artist.

If you're a beginner writer who's quite unsure about where to go, here's one exercise you can try:

Type the first chapter of your favorite book, or your favorite essay. Copy it word for word. Reading is not enough for this – you have to feel how the writer wrote that chapter, and you won't be able to do that unless you do something as complex as typing. By typing the exact words and sentences that the writer used, you should be able to have a better grasp of his or her writing techniques by the end of the exercise. How do you think the author chose the words he or she used? What about sentence structure? The narrator's voice? How do you think did he or she came up with the plot?

Study the rules that the author follows. Examine the style of writing. Try using that style and following the rules. When you get used to doing both, try experimenting on your own writing. Break a few rules, tweak the style, turn it into something that is your own. And then you can examine someone else's writing in the same way, and you can try out his or her own style.

When you've learned from more than one author, try merging their styles. You'll be able to create your own in the process.