All posts tagged: william zinsser

William Zinsser on Writing Well

“There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published. Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is to come to terms with your life narrative. Another is to work through some of life’s hardest knocks—loss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failure—and to find understanding and solace.”   “Less is more.”   “The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis.”   “Simplify, simplify.”     “The reader is someone with an attention span of about 30 seconds.”       – William Zinsser in On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction   

How to Avoid Clutter

When I was still studying, I diligently memorized new words and their meanings because I wanted to use highfalutin words in my writing.  I thought they would make my work distinctive and memorable.  Reading William Zinsser’s book, “On Writing Well, An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction” set me on the right and uncluttered path. “Fighting clutter is like fighting weeds – the writer is always slightly behind,”  Zinsser says.  In the chapter on clutter, Zinsser describes how writers (me included) “drape prepositions routinely on verbs that don’t need them.”  We say “free up” when we can simply say “free.”   We write “at this moment in time” when we can say “now.” He mentions a few among hundreds of words that we use to clutter our writing: numerous (many), facilitate (ease), individual (man or woman), sufficient (enough), implement (do), attempt (try). Here are some very helpful tips from the author on how to deal with clutter: Be grateful for all the words you can throw away. Prune ruthlessly Examine and re-examine every  word you use. …