More on Writing Well

 A recent post mentioned the two writing books that most influenced my writing.  But there is another one that influenced me: William Zinsser’s Writing To Learn. I pulled it down from my bookshelf recently and found it marked up throughout. On the inside cover I found the inscription “Read, April 2000.” Somehow I had forgotten about it. Below are a few highlighted passages from the book.


“Writing is thinking on paper. Anyone who thinks clearly should be able to write clearly …”

“Writing is learned by imitation. I learned to write mainly by reading writers who were doing the kind of writing I wanted to do and by trying to figure out how they did it.”

” … the essence of writing is rewriting.”

“Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own.”

“Putting an idea into written words is like defrosting a windshield: The idea, so vague out there in the murk, slowly begins to gather into a sensible shape.”

“… I draw on two sources of energy that I commend to anyone trying to survive in this vulnerable craft: confidence and ego.”

” … I learned at an early age what has been an important principle to me ever since—that what we want to do we will do well.”

” What finally impels them [writers] is not the work they achieve, but the work of achieving it.”


Why do I care about writing well? Because language is our most advanced form of communication. With it, ideas move between minds. This movement opens minds, and changing minds change the world. I’ll do my best to take the passion and enthusiasm within and give it artistic form. I cannot say success will follow, but I will try my best. – JGM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *