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How “Stealing” from Great Writers Makes You Write Better And Think Bigger

How “Stealing” from Great Writers Makes You Write Better And Think Bigger

We all have that day where your idea pool run dry and you just cannot find the suitable word to describe things in your mind. You then remember all those great lines from Ernest Hemingway and wonder why you never been able to form those brilliant sentences in your brain, while slowly fall into the abyss of self-deprivation.

Actually, it is not that hard to write like Hemingway. You just have to steal from him.

When you are reading some fascinating pieces from great writers, you may imagine yourself becoming a writer. You can, in fact, get one step closer by “stealing” something from them. Of course you are not plagiarizing their work, but learning some important writing skills from the masters.

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Francine Prose shares how we can learn to write better by reading intentionally — outstanding writing is dressed up with language styles.[1] It is all about putting the right word in the right place, and this is exactly what you can learn by reading someone else’s passages. Here are the tips to boost your own writing skills.

Think about why they use those words

Choosing the correct words can elevate the standard of writing. In Prose’s book, she mentions that words are “raw material out of which literature is crafted.” Readers could read every word and analyze word choices. You will have questions such as, “Why do writers use these words?” and, “What do these words imply?” After all, you can learn and use them to improve your own work.

Think about how they phrase an idea

Good writing pieces not only contain interesting ideas, but also contain phrasing with constructed sentences. Prose discusses how “the well-made sentence transcends time and genre.” She thinks that a writer who is concerned about what constitutes a well-constructed sentence is on the right path. You may learn sentence patterns and word usage from great writers and then use them in appropriate ways when phrasing your own ideas.

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George Orwell said his work was influenced much by the style of W. Somerset Maugham. Writing is the same for everyone and no different from every other skills that you can learn, the best way to improve is to learn it from the masters.

Read more, and think beyond the words

So, start reading now. Instead of just going through a book or any article word by word, think beyond the words.

Revisit the books that you love and be a bit more analytical this time. Mark it down if you come across some great sentences or ideas. Make a list of the sublime words used by great writers and learn from them.

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I’ve been keeping a notebook with all my favorite sentences and phrases since I was small. It’s like my little dictionary and it has helped my writing a lot. Just imagine a book with all the greatest writers’ greatest words and ideas! Oh and you can actually expand it to some of the best quotes you’ve seen or the amazing movie lines you’ve heard about.

When you have a notebook like that, you’ll never lack an idea or ways of presentation because you already have a pool of thoughts that you can just take out any of them any time.

Let’s start with your favorite book or favorite piece of article! Pick that up and write down all the amazing ideas, words and sentences in it!

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Featured photo credit: Ignitum Today via google.com.hk

Reference

More by this author

Charlotte Lam

Editorial Intern, Lifehack

How “Stealing” from Great Writers Makes You Write Better And Think Bigger

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Last Updated on June 21, 2019

Announcing Our New Podcast: The Lifehack Show

Announcing Our New Podcast: The Lifehack Show

We’re very excited to announce the launch of our new podcast, The Lifehack Show!

In each episode, our host, Ally Kramer (Content Director of Lifehack), interviews experts from around the world as they share advice on how to break through limitations that can keep you from reaching your goals.

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She also taps into what makes these successful role models tick, and talks with them about their personal stories of overcoming obstacles and finding success on their own terms.

Our first guest is Annie Ridout, author of The Freelance Mum: A flexible career guide for better work–life balance. Along with being an author, Annie is also the editor of the digital parenting and lifestyle platform The Early Hour, and a freelance journalist for national news and women’s magazines, such as the Guardian, Forbes, Grazia, Red Magazine, Stylist, Metro, and the Telegraph. She also speaks on BBC radio and television, and runs online courses made especially for freelancers and entrepreneurs.

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In this episode Annie Ridout shares some wonderful insight on freelancing while also juggling the art of parenting.

Episode 1: Freelancing as a Stay at Home Parent

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