Stop copying. Start imitating.

‘Work and imitation go together in the process of learning.’

Ray Bradbury

Stretching your mind – the value of imitation

Imitation can be good, especially when you’re starting out as a writer or trying to master some new form of writing. (After all, imitation is the natural way we learn as kids.) Consciously imitating a writing style helps you to discover how it works, helps you to learn its underlying structure.

And then you start changing it. Some changes make the text or the approach better, some make it worse. In either case, you learn something new about the topic, the text, the approach and about yourself as a writer.

That’s the good kind of imitation.

Imitate, don’t copy

Copying on the other hand is rigid and unthinking. There are no variations and there is no learning.

That’s the bad kind of imitation.

(There was one good thing about copying in the past: it kept you writing. But with the computer’s copy and paste, even this advantage is gone.)

So, stop copying and start imitating.

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