One month ago, I enrolled in an online writing class; the first material lesson delivered was learning to write by copy the works of others.
It was customary for 18th-century children to learn to write, at the behest of their teachers or parents, by copying the works of masters. Really copy. They copy as many words as they can, as a method of learning to write.
Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Benjamin Franklin are three of the names who acquired their writing skills by copying the works of others. Goethe was almost the same as them, but he did not copy but read over and over the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, until they became a part of him, and, with the technique and spirit of The Thousand and One Nights, he wrote his masterpiece, the drama Faust.
My mentor himself did this method to improve his writing skills when he was senior high school. He loved to do it, and he still does it until now.
Here are some benefit of learning to write by copy the works of others:
Improve your Writing Style
As you copy great works, you will slowly discover the distinct elements, unique and often subtle, of each great author’s style. Unconsciously, these elements will become part of your own style.
Improve your Word Choice and Syntax
An essential part of the style of any great writer is the choice of words and syntax or the way they construct sentences. By copying, you will get a feel for how the masters carefully selected words and composed sentences.
Improve Your Paragraph Composition Skills
Two things that often make it difficult for writers is how to arrange paragraphs and make transitions between paragraphs. Copying will allow you to really understand how great writers do it: organize thoughts or move stories, from section one to the next.
As for practicing, he suggested me to copy a short story or a chapter of a novel from a Nobel Prize-winning author or famous authors who are equivalent to a Nobel Prize winner for literature for 30 consecutive days.
He also suggested that I do this exercise at the same time every day.