Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Book That Changed How I Approach Writing

by Tony Thomas

On Writing WellThose three words say it all.

William Zinsser's book on non-fiction writing is a true gem and is must-read for any writer. It certainly revolutionized the way that I approach writing.

Zinsser taught me that "less is more" and that I need to simplify. He taught me to write to an individual and not to an audience. He also taught me to think clearly.

One of my favorite quotes from On Writing Well:

“But the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that's already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what--these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence. And they usually occur in proportion to education and rank...” (1)

Word economy is the key to clear communication. When I read older works, I often labor to dissect a sentence to determine exactly what a writer meant to say.  This is unfortunate and a lot of us are similarly guilty of unnecessary embellishment. We use several paragraphs to convey information that can be summarized in one sentence. Sometimes this is due to arrogance.  Sometimes it is just plain laziness.

As Zinsser says, "Writing is hard work". I would add that editing is even harder work.

(1) On Writing Well, William Zinsser

You can buy a copy of On Writing Well here:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Why I Write

by Tony Thomas

Why do I write? I write because I love words. I write because I can sculpt my sentences into the messages that I want to convey. I write because writing is the ultimate form of communication.

I have been writing professionally for over 40 years. I've written articles, ad copy, radio commercials, collateral material, white papers, and books. I have loved every project and every moment that I have spent writing.

Sometimes words don't come easy. I have to stop, reflect, and think hard to coax them out. Eventually, they exit my mind and appear on the page. I am not a voluminous writer. I am stingy with my words. I believe in word economy. I mercilessly excise every superfluous sentence and word. Each word in the sentence has to work harder to perfectly render the correct shade of meaning.
I am a writer.  That is why I write.