On Writing Well: Book Review
Kicking off my first website with a book review? I must be out of my mind. No introduction to your life? No heartwarming story about facing your fears and starting a website? I must admit - I do feel a little rebellious.
If you're reading this, I can assume that you're either looking to hone your writing skills (or you're one of my friends/family that reads this blog just because). Good news for you: I just finished reading one. More good news: it's REALLY good.
"On Writing Well," by William Zinsser is the first book I've read that is aimed specifically at becoming a better non-fiction writer. If that's you, you've more than likely read the *countless* blogs out there 'helping' you become a better writer.
Stop what you're doing.
The craziest part to me is that Zinsser created something that would go on to withstand the test of time, even in a near completely digital age. Originally published in 1976, 'On Writing Well' dives individually into different styles of nonfiction writing:
- Writing a family memoir
- Conducting a bad ass interview
Zinsser uses specific examples in each chapter via excerpts from some of his favorite pieces - rarely his own. This is probably the most beneficial part of the book, simply because you can see the technique being explained in action. I re-read every passage twice, at least.
While the book's main messages are stated by its chapter titles, the author teaches a few other valuable lessons as well. Zinsser teaches his readers to be confident in their voice and work hard to entertain - two common characteristics of historically great writers.
After just about 300 pages, you'll have learned how to remove "clutter" from your work, keep things simple and embrace your style.
Here's a few other reviews from satisfied readers, in case you don't believe me:
Reading this book gave me every bit of motivation I needed to believe in myself as a writer. Actually, I plan on reading Zinsser's other writing-related books: Writing to Learn and Writing about your life
Where can I buy it?
Right now, Amazon.com has the 30th-Anniversary edition on sale for $10 (if you have Amazon Prime, it's eligible). If you have any desire to expand your knowledge of writing and/or learn to write about many different subjects - and do it well - this book sits atop my recommendation list. Do your brain a favor and go buy it.
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