Chuck's Q Blog


Just another ICM blog

Keep it simple

I was glad to see William Zinsser’s classic On Writing Well listed for #506DE. It just so happened I had a copy on my computer desk.

I own the the sixth edition, which has a 1998 copyright. I see the current edition was published for the book’s 30th anniversary in 2006. I thought my copy was actually older than that. It seems like the lessons I learned from reading it had been learned long before that point in my newspaper career.

If you don’t take anything else from this book, consider this passage:

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? Is anything pompous or pretentious or faddish? Are you hanging on to something useless just because you think it’s beautiful? Simplify, simplify.

I couldn’t agree more. I know that I improved my writing by reading the Elements of Style from cover to cover. I think I took it up another notch after reading Zinsser’s book.

What will I take from it this time?