The Writer at Work

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But with practice, he was able to read huge passages and reproduce them from memory with exactitude. He continued the practice even after he became a literary success. Besides helping him learn style and grammar, the way Stevenson did his copywork — reading the passage twice and trying to replicate it from memory — also made him a more attentive reader. Which, of course, only helped further improve his writing. Benjamin Franklin was not only an inventor, statesman, and publisher, but also a prolific writer. Besides penning his famous autobiography, he produced numerous magazine articles and several scientific treatises.

To master the writing craft, Franklin created a copywork-like exercise for himself when he was a teenager:. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, tried to complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand.

Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them. Therefore I took some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again.

I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and complete the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts.

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  • By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language. Before he birthed Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. I learned about copywork while I was in law school and used it as a way to improve my own writing. It was freaking hard, but well worth the effort. Nothing helped my writing more than that exercise. I wish I had learned about copywork earlier in my academic career.

    As Kate can attest, before law school, my writing abilities hovered somewhere between mediocre and horrible. Copywork continues to help my writing improve. At the same time, these masterful elements will almost imperceptibly become absorbed into your own style. Improves your word choice and syntax. Improving my word choice and syntax has been the biggest boon for me with copywork.

    For example, whenever I feel like my writing is starting to get a bit bloated, doing copywork with Hemingway seems to get me back on track for making it a little punchier. Two areas of writing that many folks have trouble with is how to organize paragraphs and make the transition from one paragraph to the next.

    Copywork gives you an in-depth view of how great writers organize their thoughts.

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    Improves spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Improves memory and focus. It requires an intense amount of cognitive strength to read a paragraph twice and then write it out word for word from memory. When I first tried it, I positively sucked. But with time, one sentence became two, and soon I was able to transcribe entire paragraphs from memory.

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    There is deep feeling, variety, astonishing articulation of complex things, and warmth and humor in these essays. Many of the writers fight to write, and show us their battle plans. It's inspiring and encouraging, and sometimes it's sad. Some - I am thinking of young writer Michele Murray, who struggled against terrible odds - are heartbreaking. Anne Tyler's darkly humorous recitation of her typical working day, "Still Just Writing," is a classic.

    Alice Walker's essay, "One Child of One's Own" speaks to motherhood, and its fragile but undeniable relationship to a writing life. The new Preface, by Dominican-born Vermonter Julia Alvarez, is touching and insightful and very personal - in keeping with the rest of the book - and speaks to the concerns of the essays. Sternberg has also edited her orignal Introduction, and updated the contributors' notes at the book's end. Without question I'd recommend this wonderful book to anyone interested in reading women on the process of writing, the art of memoir, and the considered and considerably interesting opinions of a group of very wonderful writers.

    If you are looking for inspiration, a motivating force for writers who want to keep writing. One person found this helpful. Great writing from authors one actually wants to hear from, very useful. The Writer on Her Work (Vol. 1) (): Janet Sternburg: Books

    I espied this book on a shelf of a writer friend. She said she picked it up somewhere but hadn't yet read it. I asked to borrow it. And it was one of the best books I ever borrowed. Since the edition WAS borrowed, I couldn't underline as is my wont, so I wrote down pertinent thoughts and sentences that resonated with me. Below are a few of them. I must find this book and buy it for myself. Both volumes are rich in insight on what it is that drives the impulse to write. There's a reason some books are destined to become classics. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful.

    See all 5 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Set up a giveaway. Customers who viewed this item also viewed.

    Writers Work

    They are common nouns—not proper ones. That feels easy enough, right? But practically every industry appreciates people who know how to string together grammatically correct sentences and share their ideas clearly. It makes you a better emailer, a better presenter, a better job searcher, and overall, a better communicator. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally.

    Arundhati Roy at home and work: activist, writer and filmmaker on The God of Small Things

    She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on stacespeaks. Hmmm, seems you've already signed up for this class. While you're here, you may as well check out all the amazing companies that are hiring like crazy right now. Thanks, Ben OK, this might be an exaggeration. Are There Run-on Sentences? Is the Writing Conversational?