Hydrangea's Reviews > On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

On Writing Well by William Zinsser
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Oct 05, 2011

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Read from September 07 to October 05, 2011

This book has been recommended to me for over 30 years. I shamefully never had the time to pick it up. I had been writing from adolescence into my mid-thirties, then came to a halt. In the middle of a career change, I was encouraged to start writing again. So I began digging through the trunks of my writing. This book was again suggested as a good starting point. I was wary at first. I knew it would be a struggle and investment. However, I should know better than to question the classics as this book was a total inspiration - just the remedy I needed. There were so many invaluable methods to implement in my own writing. The main theory is to try not to write your whole book at once, but rather contribute a little every day, and worry about form later, so the task isn't so daunting that you never start. I totally identified with Zinner's profile of a writer - kindred spirit. There were some compelling writing samples in this book that I had never been exposed to. I especially loved the author's travel piece about Timbuktu. It's a clearly thought out and thorough book. I definitely am interested in reading Zinsser's other books. There are unlimited clever choices of words that challenge you to the dictionary or Roget's. There are numerous experts mentioned and it inspired me to follow up on their writing i.e., EB White. Mostly, the book tells you to be yourself, take pride in your work, speak in simple English, make sure your words are doing the work or being used in the correct way, to research the masters, and don't let editors change your voice. So I highly recommend this book as a fundamental tool for anyone who is a writer or thinking of becoming a writer. It's a short book, but a challenging read - one you will reference again and again. Carry on and best of luck!
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