Susan Orlean on imitation

“There are times when imitating the work you admire can result in something that sounds stilted, faux, flimsy. But what could be better than studying the way someone really good cobbles sentences together, paces a story, builds a narrative? It’s like studying Tiger Woods videos to improve your golf swing: Watching and repeating how it’s done well is how you learn. In the beginning, it’s likely that your work will sound, well, imitative. But imitate good work often enough and you’ll start to inhabit your own writing more, and eventually it will sound like you, and you can take off the training wheels.”

— Susan Orlean (via)