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On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
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On Writing Well Quotes Showing 1-30 of 113
“Decide what you want to do. Then decide to do it. Then do it.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide To Writing Nonfiction
“Examine every word you put on paper. You'll find a surprising number that don't serve any purpose.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Don’t try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience—every reader is a different person.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide To Writing Nonfiction
“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“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.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Less is more.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide To Writing Nonfiction
“the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Don't be kind of bold. Be bold.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“There’s not much to be said about the period except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“If the nails are weak, your house will collapse. If your verbs are weak and your syntax is rickety, your sentences will fall apart.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly. Be grateful for everything you can throw away. Reexamine each sentence you put on paper. Is every word doing new work? Can any thought be expressed with more economy?”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“As a writer you must keep a tight rein on your subjective self—the traveler touched by new sights and sounds and smells—and keep an objective eye on the reader.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Beware, then, of the long word that's no better than the short word: "assistance" (help), "numerous" (many), "facilitate" (ease), "Individual" (man or woman), "remainder" (rest), "initial" (first), "implement" (do), "sufficient" (enough), "attempt" (try), "referred to as" (called), and hundreds more. Beware of all the slippery new fad words: paradigm and parameter, prioritize and potentialize. They are all weeds that will smother what you write. Don't dialogue with someone you can talk to. Don't interface with anybody.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Learn to enjoy this tidying process. I don't like to write; I like to have written. But I love to rewrite. I especially like to cut: to press the DELETE key and see an unnecessary word or phrase or sentence vanish into the electricity. I like to replace a humdrum word with one that has more precision or color. I like to strengthen the transition between one sentence and another. I like to rephrase a drab sentence to give it a more pleasing rhythm or a more graceful musical line. With every small refinement I feel that I'm coming nearer to where I would like to arrive, and when I finally get there I know it was the rewriting, not the writing, that wont the game.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can't exist without the other.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“The reader is someone with an attention span of about 30 seconds.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force on themselves,”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“writing is a craft, not an art, and that the man who runs away from his craft because he lacks inspiration is fooling himself.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Simplify, simplify.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“...being "rather unique" is no more possible than being rather pregnant.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Writers are the custodians of memory...”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Don’t say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be confused. Be tired. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don’t hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it’s where the game is won or lost. That idea is hard to accept. We all have an emotional equity in our first draft; we can’t believe that it wasn’t born perfect. But the odds are close to 100 percent that it wasn’t. Most writers don’t initially say what they want to say, or say it as well as they could.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“It wont do to say that the reader is too dumb or too lazy to keep pace with the train of thought. If the reader is lost, it's usually because the writer hasn't be careful enough.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Don't annoy your readers by over-explaining--by telling them something they already know or can figure out. Try not to use words like "surprisingly," "predictably" and "of course," which put a value on a fact before the reader encounters the fact. Trust your material.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“I think a sentence is a fine thing to put a preposition at the end of.”
William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
“Most first drafts can be cut by 50 percent without losing any information or losing the author’s voice.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

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