I recently read an essay by Theo Nestor, describing how you need a nut graf in a personal essay. She offers a wonderful example of how this can be done, then advises writers to copy the format: “It is perfectly okay … The content will be very much your own.”
Similarly, in a recent essay for Glimmer Train, Zeynep Ozakat says:
Imitation is part of being a writer. Just like babies who learn to smile by imitating adults, we must have the humility to learn from the greats through mimicry.
She closes by quoting Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Read her entire essay.
For more insight from the latest Glimmer Train bulletin:
- Writing What You Don’t Know by Patrick Hicks
- Just Add Cowboy by Sean Bernard
- The Monster Scale by Daniel Torday
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.