In spite of its salacious, click-bait title, and apparently being written by fictitious baseball player Sidd Finch*, I read an article called How to Not Write Like an Asshole a while ago. In it, the author proposes that the way to become a great writer is to copy great writers.


“When I say you should copy great writers, I mean you should literally copy their best work, word-for-word, and preferably by hand.

This process is called copywork and it’s mind-numbingly simple. You barely have to think. All you have to do is sit down with your favorite book, article, or blog post and copy it. Copywork is the fastest and best way to become a better writer. But for some reason very few people know about it.”

—Sidd Finch

He goes on to trace the history of copywork from before Guttenberg invented the printing press, through famous copywork practitioners such as Benjamin Franklin, Jack London, and Hunter S. Thompson, who allegedly typed out The Great Gatsby in its entirety while working on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, just to get the feeling, he said, of what it was like to write that way.       

There are even simple instructions for performing copywork yourself. 

I’m not sure how much of the story is true, but (of course), you know me—I had to try it. I mean, if it was good enough for Hunter S. Thompson while he was working on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it’s good enough for me…


So… I’ve been hand-writing The Great Gatsby longhand while working on Working Smarter for Mac Users. 🤓  

I do a few minutes of copywork as a warm-up whenever I sit down to write in earnest. And, as I mentioned in Working Smarter for Mac Users, I really enjoy writing with a fountain pen every now and then, so I’m kind of enjoying it.    

Here’s the zinger, though: It works.

How do I know? Not a single person has told me I write like an a-hole since I started. 

Now, just read the article and give copywork a try… you might just discover that you enjoy it as much as I do!  

*According to Wikipedia:
“Sidd Finch is a fictional baseball player, the subject of the notorious article and April Fools’ Day hoax “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch” written by George Plimpton and first published in the April 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated. According to Plimpton, Finch was raised in an English orphanage, learned yoga in Tibet, and could throw a fastball as fast as 168 miles per hour (270 km/h).”

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About the Author

Bob Levitus

Bob LeVitus, often referred to as “Dr. Mac,” is a well-known authority on all things Macintosh, OS X, and Apple devices including the iPad and iPhone. One of the Apple community’s most trusted advisors for almost thirty years, he’s known for his trademark humorous style and unerring ability to translate “techie” jargon into usable and fun advice for regular folks. He's written more than 80 books including macOS Sierra For Dummies, iPhone For Dummies, and iPad For Dummies. And, for the past 20 years, he's written the Dr. Mac column for the Houston Chronicle (which he still does). He's also been writing for The Mac Observer for almost as long (he still does that, too). Bob has been published in more than a dozen computer magazines over the past thirty years including: a three-year stint as Editor-in-Chief of the irreverent and unpredictable MACazine and four different columns in MacUser magazine: Beating the System, Personal Best, Game Room, and the Help Folder (with Andy Ihnatko, and later, Chris Breen). Though best known for writing, he’s also dabbled in broadcasting with a radio show (Inside Mac Radio, CNET Radio, 2001-2002) and hosted a popular television series (Mac Today, Syndicated, 1992–1993). Another of Bob’s loves is teaching, which he's been doing at University of Texas Informal Classes for over a decade, with well-loved courses including, iPhone for Smart People, Making Music with GarageBand, and soon, Working Smarter for Mac Users. Always in-demand as a speaker, Bob has presented more than 200 seminars, workshops, conferences, and training sessions in the U.S. and abroad, and given Macworld Expo keynotes in three countries, He's also done presentations at countless Apple Stores, and at least three world-famous Geek Cruises. Last but not least, Bob won the Macworld Expo MacJeopardy World Championship three times before retiring his crown. He did not, however, return the Rocket J. Squirrel Memorial Cup, which is still displayed prominently in his office. Prior to giving in to his obsessions with Apple technology and productivity, Bob worked in advertising, producing television commercials, radio spots, and print ads for Kresser & Robbins and SelecTV, in Los Angeles. Bob holds a B.S. in Marketing from California State University and lives in beautiful (and over-crowded) Austin, Texas with his beautiful wife, Lisa, and Zeke the Wonder Vizsla, with occasional visits from now-adult children Allison and Jacob.