Imitation: Developing as a Writer

I am currently writing a miniature memoir for a writing class I am enrolled in. The assignment is to write on a significant event in your life focusing on physical, mental, and spiritual detail, as a memoir would (but only in 4-7 pages). I am describing my struggle with anxiety.

We discussed and read about imitation: directly taking a passage from another author and replacing words and phrases to make the passage fit to your piece of writing. I had never done this until now. I found it to be extremely helpful. I’m a decent writer, but I am also only eighteen, and obviously I’m no Dickens or Emerson. I do love to write, nonetheless. So, I took two paragraphs from the first two pages of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, where he describes Raskolnikov’s state of irritability and anxiety do describe my clinical anxiety. It was extremely helpful. I tend to struggle with word choice, so this exercise let me use the diction of one of the greatest writers to ever live, while applying it to my own work.

I recommend using imitation (as long as you make sure you are not plagiarizing) to anyone who enjoys writing and wants to improve.


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