Your point number two is completely wrong and dangerous. Learning the styles of others, mimicking them and imitating them is one of the best ways to find your own style. They are teachers, you are the student. Apprenticeship is a time tested and honored way of learning a craft. Hunter Thompson, to give just one example, typed out the text of The Great Gatsby just to get that style in his fingers.

As for stealing, really? You name a writer, pick a text, and I will tell you who they have read and been influenced by. Originality is a dangerous lie. The works of the past are there to be mined and used. Picasso (may have) said, “good artists copy, great artists steal”? It’s OK as long as you follow Pound’s injunction to Make It New. Every poem, painting, sonata, etc. contains what preceeded it. It is part of a tradition.

Expecting a young, budding artist to be “original” is a prescription for paralysis. He or she will feel that they can never measure up and probably give up.

Certainly, Thomson did not end up writing like Fitzgerald, but there is Fitzgerald in his writing. There is Mozart in Beethoven and Beethoven in Tchaikovsky.

Contrary to your advice, knowing and imitating the past is the best way to find your style and have a future as an artist. I heartily advise young artists to do so.

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