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Weekend Assignment: The Writer’s Apprentice


Ballpoint pen writing. Streaks of ink are visi...

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Imitation may or may not be the sincerest form of flattery, but many writers have gotten their starts by imitating authors they admire. To illustrate my point, think about this.  How many poetic imitations of Poe’s The Raven or Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas have you read over the years? Granted, they aren’t masterpieces, and I’m sure they didn’t net their authors book deals, but they were writing practice. And I bet they were fun to write.

When I first started writing humor, at the tender age of nine or ten, I aspired to be the next Erma Bombeck. I couldn’t get enough of Aunt Erma’s wit and wisdom. Because of that, I did what came naturally — I became a writer’s apprentice.  I read everything she wrote, mimicked her style, tone, and her subject matter. I studied comedic timing at Aunt Erma’s knee, even though I never met her personally.

Erma inspired me to write — and learn.

Later in life, when I was grown and had a family of my own, those lessons paid off with a monthly humor column at a local magazine. It won awards, people laughed,  and I got paid to do it for several years. All because at one time, I admired Erma enough to imitate her.

This weekend it is your turn. Apprentice yourself to a favorite author. No, I don’t mean stalk them on Twitter or Facebook or, heaven forbid, in person. Find an author whose work you admire, someone you love to read. Examine what makes their writing tick. Is it a distinct voice? A style? Borrow those elements to write an essay or article on a topic you enjoy.

The show and tell challenge:

Want to share your work with the readers of B&B? Take the Show and Tell Challenge. Write your piece based on the prompt above, post it on your blog, then link back to your post in the comments here.

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