This month’s Glimmer Train bulletin is just chock full of good advice.

Several good tips here from Bruce McAllister, writing coach & former director of creative writing at the University of Redlands. I was most intrigued by this one:

  • Copy out sections or whole stories they love. (It’s “play and mastery”—we know it as children, as we know joy and passion in creative work, though we often block it as adults)

I’ve seen it before, and have always been tempted, but never done it. My obstacle is an efficiency fallacy. There is only so much time available for writing work (especially right now) and I tend to feel that I should be spending it getting my own stories on paper, not doing homework (Steps towards being a novelist:  #1. Write novel.) Exercises are for that mythical “extra” writing time I expect to have, separate from actual writing time.

I have been noticing lately when reading how other writers approach their stories, usually thinking along the lines of “I would never choose those words to tell a story” or “those sentences are so different from mine.” Maybe I’m halfway there. But I can see how actually typing would be like inhabiting someone else’s body for a while. Which is one of the reasons to be a writer in the first place, so maybe I’ll try it.

Anyone else done this one?