August 24, 2014

George Packer - Emulation and imitation is a good way to learn how to write

George Packer - New Yorker
New Yorker staff writer George Parker spoke with Christopher Hitchens in 2009 and explained how he modelled himself and his writing on the work of George Orwell:
"I needed to know how does one become a writer, and so I just read straight through what was then the only collection of George Orwell’s essays and journalism and letters… I became a slavish emulator and imitator for a while in my 20s. I think it’s a good way to learn how to write - To find a writer you feel some affinity for, and just master their prose style, their rhythms, get the cadences into your own nerve system and then try to find your own way into it." 
As I noted in an earlier post, Hunter S. Thompson did the same thing, modelled himself on great writers, and he explained how he did this on Charlie Rose:
"If you type out somebody's work, you learn a lot about it. Amazingly it's like music. And from typing out parts of Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald - these were writers that were very big in my life and the lives of the people around me - so yea I wanted to learn from the best I guess."
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