I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself getting stuck in a rut with my writing. Whether it is a shortage of ideas or using the same sentence structure, my writing feels stale and tired. The exercise that inevitably pulls me out of a funk is what I call the “Imitation Game.”
It works like this. You pick a passage/page from a writer of your choice (hopefully one whose style you admire). Then you take a blank piece of paper and copy out the passage by hand at least three times. This helps you get the rhythm of the writing and get a real sense of the author’s voice.
After you have done that, try to write your own passage using that writer’s style. This will help test if any of the writer’s voice has “sunk in.”
Example of this after copying a Hemingway passage: She walked into the bar. He was sitting there drinking a beer. She said to him: “What are you doing?” He said, “Watching the rain.” She sat down.
The goal is to do this over a week with the same author, using different passages. By the end of the week, an element of the author’s style will become a tool in your toolbox. For example, if you want to learn to write serpentine sentences, pick Henry James. Want to brush up your witty dialogue? Have a fun week with Jane Austen.
Who did you pick? Let me know in the comments!