Day #238:What Benjamin Franklin Can Teach Us About Skills Development

I have been trying to improve on my writing skills for a while now. You know that piece you read that is straight to the point, engaging, captures everything you want to say and even dripping with wit? The kind of feeling you get when you read something from your favourite author.The kind I get when I read Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin or Dan Ariely, that’s my goal.

I think I am making progress :).

So recently I discovered a secret that is not so secret, about how to become a master and take your craft to the next level. I found that besides dedication to their craft and hours of ‘deliberate practice’, a lot of experts or masters in their field did so by modelling themselves after other masters before them. To put it simply, they copied.

Benjamin Franklin provides one of the best examples of copy to mastery. When he wanted to learn to write eloquently and persuasively, he began to study his favourite articles from a popular British publication, the Spectator. Days after he’d read an article he particularly enjoyed, he would try to reconstruct it from memory in his own words. Then he would compare it with the original, so he could discover and correct his faults. He also worked to improve his sense of language by translating the articles into rhyming verse and then from verse back into prose.

Similarly, famous painters sometimes attempt to reproduce the paintings of other masters.Leonardo Da Vinci learnt and perfected his art after studying and following Andrea del Verrocchio who was master of an important workshop in Florence as an apprentice.The famous English poet Alfred Tennyson, constructed his verses using the efforts of his artistic antecedents as a resource.

Of course these masters went on to inject their personalities into their works and they became truly authentic and original, they did so after learning and copying the works of other masters.

I am taking this road at the moment.I wanted to share this perhaps it might help you.

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