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Copy the best

I was listening to Joyce Carol Oates on the Tim Ferriss Show the other day, and one of the things she said about how she teaches, stuck with me. She teaches writing, and in the Advanced class, she gets her students to write a story of their own in the style of famous authors - like Hemingway or Jane Austen. 

The exercise is to copy the style of writing of famous authors and use that in a story that the students have thought up in their heads. 

This is not to train them to start writing exactly like Hemingway or Jane Austen, but to get them to understand and appreciate what goes into creating quality work. 

Painters work in a similar manner when they learn by replicating works of famous artists before them. 

We end up with our own creative styles at the end of the day, but in copying the best when we are learning, it helps us to appreciate what goes into creating good art.

The best doesn't have to be the objective best, of course. It is simply someone that we look up to and admire and will find delight in emulating their style. 

Copy the best.

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