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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

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Charlotte Lam

Editorial Intern, Lifehack

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

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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

6 Reasons Why Perfectionism Kills Your Productivity

6 Reasons Why Perfectionism Kills Your Productivity

Perfectionism sounds like a first world problem, but it stifles creative minds. Having a great idea but doubting your ability to execute it can leave you afraid to just complete and publish it. Some of the most successful inventors failed, but they kept going in pursuit of perfection. On the other end of the spectrum, perfectionism can hinder people when they spend too much time seeking recognition, gathering awards and wasting time patting themselves on the back. Whatever your art, go make good art and don’t spend time worrying that your idea isn’t perfect enough and certainly don’t waste time coming up with a new idea because you’re still congratulating yourself for the last one.

1. Remember, perfection is subjective.

If you’re worried about achieving perfectionism with any single project so much that you find yourself afraid to just finish it, then you aren’t being productive. Take a hard look at your work, edit and revise, then send it our into the world. If the reviews aren’t the greatest, learn from the feedback so you can improve next time.

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2. Procrastination masquerades itself as perfectionism.

People who procrastinate aren’t always lazy or trying to get out of doing something. Many who procrastinate do so because perfectionism is killing their productivity, telling them that if they wait a better idea will come to them.

3. Recognize actions that waste time.

Artists and all creative people need time to incubate; those ideas will only grow when properly watered, but if you’re not engaging in an activity that will help foster creativity, you might just be wasting time. Remember to do everything with purpose, even relaxing.

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4. Don’t discriminate against your worth.

No one is actually perfect. We often have tremendous ideas or write things that move people emotionally, but no one attains that final state of being perfect. So, don’t get down if your second idea isn’t as good as your first—or vice versa. Perfectionists tend to be the toughest critics of their work, so don’t criticize yourself. You are not your work no matter how good or how bad.

5. Stress races your heart and freezes your innovation.

Stress is a cyclic killer that perfectionists know well because that same system that engages and causes your palms to sweat over a great idea is the same system that kicks in and worries you that you’re not good enough. Perfectionism means striving for that ultimate level, and stress can propel you forward excitedly or leave you shaking in fear of the next step.

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6. Meeting deadlines beats waiting for perfect work.

Don’t let your fear of failure prevent you from meeting your deadline. Perfection is subjective and if you’re wasting time or procrastinating, you should just finish the job and learn from any mistakes. Being productive means completing work. You shouldn’t try for months or even years to perfect one project when you can produce projects that improve over time.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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