08 June

Can't Write Your Own Words? Then Type Out Other's...


There is nothing wrong with copying. It's sometimes the best way to become unique.

Many of our greats have done it — I mean sitting down and typing out works written by your literary idol.

Hunter S. Thompson typed out F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Hunter said F. Scott wrote about life from inside the rarefied world, while Hunter said he wanted to do something similar... by smashing the window panes, breaking and entering into that rarefied world. Possibly the difference between living on the right side versus the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. But you'll notice both authors from both sides made permanent societal dents.

[A Side Tangent: I absolutely HATE when writing conference panelists say, "Everything has already been written, so don't try to think your works will be something brand new, just a new version of the old." I always wonder why in the flying feathery hell they feel the need to say this, even if it's true? Such defeatism, even if valid, defeats the new writer psyche. I realize their intent, but I think the writing world can be so cruel to new writers sometimes. It's no wonder, so many literary artists give up the ghost too soon. I believe the writing world, like no other artistic community, is rife with self-conscious, jealous souls...]

Tangent over. Now, back to the story...

Hunter adored F. Scott's style, and in his early writing days, he wanted to emulate that style, so the best way he knew how was to type out the celebrated author's published works. And over time, that rudimentary practice had Hunter finding his own voice in typing out F. Scott's word choice, scene set-ups, and emotionally driven, symbolic visuals. 

In copying Fitz, Hunter didn't actually copy Fitz. He discovered himself.

Many new writers have great difficulty finding their own voice, and that can lead to a stagnation in their writing process. How does one speak if you haven't a voice? you ask. And I say, "Exactly."

Many new writers, as I've previously said, are inherently shy people, so it can be they haven't much of an outstanding voice in their everyday lives, so how would they have a voice on paper?

I never personally met Hunter Thompson, but he struck me as a typical introvert who needed that alcoholic/drug fix to be less of an introvert, which, of course, was his downfall in the end. But it shows to me, he needed help with his literary voice, too.

If you see yourself this way, you're in good company. So many literary greats have copied down so many literary greats when being introverted in the beginning of their career hindered their success.

HOMEWORK: On the days you simply cannot find the courage to write down your own words, let this not stop you from showing up and doing the work! Instead, copy. Type or hand write your literary idol's works — a few sentences, a paragraph, a whole chapter, and for as long as it takes you to comfortably start writing words on your own. In so doing, you'll sense the flow of that author — in the timing, suspense, foreshadowing, symbolic placement, in atmosphere creation, in the author's courage to say their truth as you will undoubtedly do one day. Typing out the works of the greats is a great start down your own artistic path.

Showing up to work can take many forms. As long as you are working the words, your brain is maturing as a scribe. It's when you sit there on your couch and do nothing but ruminate that you are literally doing nothing to advance as an artist.

[As to that panelist who says everything has already been written: always be ready as an artist to break any universal truth... ;-)]

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