The Anatomical Method for Learning How to be a Brilliant Writer

When was the last time you learned something? I mean, really studied and learned something hard?

Years ago in anatomy class, I learned a powerfully effective technique for learning something deeply.

I had a cardiovascular system test to study for, so in addition to attending lectures and reading the text, and doing everything that the other students were doing, I took things one step further:

I rewrote my textbook.

Well, re-drew it, to be more precise.

In other words: I hand-copied, in color, the diagrams from my mini-fridge-sized anatomy book.

As I did, a little voice inside wondered whether I was going overboard.

Surely re-drawing the diagrams is unnecessary? The little voice asked.

Turns out, nope.

At exam time, one of the most important questions on the test asked students to hand-draw the coronary veins and their branches, and name them correctly.

In other words, we weren’t asked to just regurgitate memorized content on a multiple-choice test.

We had to show that we actually understood how the cardiovascular system worked by drawing it from memory.

You can’t do that unless you have true knowledge.

Knowledge that you actually OWN.

Which brings me to writing.

Just because you read a lot of articles does not necessarily mean you have a true grasp of how brilliant writing works.

As Thomas Hood once said:

Easy reading is damn hard writing.

And not everyone knows how to do it well, even if they think they do.

So how are you going to “re-draw your anatomy textbook” when it comes to learning how to write?


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