Writing well is one of those skills about which many people think, “You’re either born with it, or you’re not,” and while there are some people who do seemed to have been destined to put words to paper, writing is still a skill that can be honed and must be developed and practice. To that end, William Zinsser’s On Writing Well does a great explaining how to do that, while also defending the claim that since everyone has a voice, everyone can write.
Zinsser divided this book into four different but vital sections:
In Principles, he discusses some of the minutiae and mechanics of writing.
In Methods, the focus shifts to the organization, presentation, and structure of a whole piece.
My favorite section was Forms, in which the author presented several examples of different styles of writing. It was both enjoyable and incredibly helpful to see how authors, each with a distinct style, tackle the same genre.
Lastly, the Attitudes section was very empowering, reminding the reader to be the author they were created to be.
There really isn’t a bad. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It wasn’t an easy read, but it wasn’t very difficult either. It was one of those books that reads well, but requires a lot of thinking because it’s teaching you so much.
In preparing this blog post, I learned that William Zinsser died in May 2015. While the death of any person is tragic, I’m truly saddened to learn about this, as I would have loved to have spoken with Zinsser, though I don’t have any idea what we would have talked about.
I’ve been keeping a running list of all the books I’ve read this year, and this might be my favorite. In fact, it might be my favorite of the past two years. I honestly feel like I’m a better writer for having read it, and I’m sure you will as well.
I’m actually struggling with how to review such a deep an amazing book. Perhaps I’ll put it like this:
I didn’t take any classes in writing in college. I’ve been mostly self-taught, until now. I just took a course in writing, taught by William Zinsser. The class is open for anyone to take. There are plenty of seats available.
– Readability (5.0)
– Breadth/Depth of Content (5.0)
– Helpfulness (5.0)
Recommended? – Yes! For anyone who wants to learn how to write, with skill, from their truest selves.
On Writing Well is by William Zinsser