9 responses to “Writing advice from William Zinsser’s classic, On Writing Well”

  1. --Deb

    It’s been a while since I read Zinsser. (College writing class circa 1988-89.) I agree, though, that his book is a classic. Somebody else just mentioned this a couple weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about rereading mine … and now I think I REALLY have to!

  2. Kerry Dexter

    Never studied journalism/ writing — or English, for that matter, got credit by exam — at university, so I came to this book later, and was interested to see that there were a lot of aspects I had picked up on my own, through studying the arts.

    The last quote you offer is great, but I think a bit differently about his view on style. I’d say good writing is a matter of both confidence and humility rather than ego.

  3. Michelle Rafter

    Kerry: I think in the quote, and the section on style, Zinsser uses “ego” to mean sense of self rather than inflated sense of self; given that, I agree with him that style is about letting the real you shine through.


  4. Marshall Kirkpatrick

    Good stuff and excerpts/summary much appreciated. Have been looking for a read just like this.

  5. Michelle Rafter

    Marshall, if you like this, I’d also suggest William Blundell’s The Art and Craft of Feature Writing – another classic. Blundell was a writing coach at the WSJ and this book first came out in 1986 – not sure if it’s still in print, you could try for used copies at Powell’s.


  6. Mike

    I re-read this book every year. Wish more marketing/PR pros would read it :-(

  7. If you write, William Zinsser’s book is your bible « Maney | Digital

    […] is a big part of what I do as a PR professional. I read William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” in college and re-read it every year to keep my writing as sharp and tight as possible. If you […]

  8. Annette Gendler

    Funny to come across you mentioning this book today – my daughter has to read it now as a high school junior, which I think is a great idea.

  9. Michelle Rafter

    If you do reread it let me know what you think. I’m thinking of printing out that last paragraph and putting it in my writing journal as inspiration.


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