In the 27th email from 50 days of writing, David Perell talks about how learning from others by imitating exactly what they do and practicing will help you find the real voice you have been looking for.
This is what David mentions -
Instead of trying to be original, mirror others so intensely that the glitter of their brilliance shines upon your craft. It’s the closest you can get to a conversation with the artist. Aim for perfection but pay attention to your mistakes, for they hold the seeds of your individuality.
David mentions all these people as examples to show how honing on the skill others do, is actually to make yours stand out.
- Hunter S. Thompson once hand-wrote every word of the Great Gatsby so he could feel what it’s like to write a great novel.
- Robert Louis Stevenson copied paragraphs from memory. He read his favorite ones twice. Then, he threw them to the other side of the room and re-wrote them without looking.
- David Letterman tried to copy Johnny Carson, but failed and became one of America’s great television hosts. Reflecting on his own influences, Conan O’Brien said: "It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.”
All these examples learned the imitation art so well, that it's like they are having conversations with the people of whom they imitated.
Imitation can be seen in two ways:
- They are doing it to rip off idea and get famous or money or recognition.
- They are imitating to learn and improve their skills.
I don't want to fall under the first category. That is why I add a section of my thoughts in these notes to show a different perspective or an opinion on the topic. I feel I am learning so much. It is all possible only if we master the art of learning.
There are many examples that I can give -
- Movies are made in different languages to show the work or the story to the set demographic. It is also to make money as any good story does. We all know Kabir Singh was first made in south but then remade in Tamil and Hindi. It is appreciating good story.
- Stand up comedies have similar set of jokes around the same area. I remember I watched standup of Kenny Sebastian, Kanan Gill and Abish Matthew on Prime and I found few of the jokes and the whole set to be similar.
- The famous Smoke Criminal of Stewie2k, a professional cs-go player states in a video that he imitates Mike's (Shroud) crosshair placement and brings in his own twist and I was impressed when he said that.
- Imitate to learn.
- Build better bridges around few islands (bring in better stories in between main ideas.)
- Imitate so well that it feels as if you are having a conversation with the writer.
Thank you for reading.