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Sep 12, 2008

William Zinsser on Writing -- "It's One of the Hardest Things That People Do"

I'm interrupting an afternoon of tortured writing work to quote the great William Zinsser, whose book "On Writing Well" is now in its 9th or so edition:

Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this as a consolation in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it's because it is hard. It's one of the hardest things that people do.

This quote was in the introduction to some of this book's early editions, but it disappeared by somewhere around the 5th.  Too bad, but at least I can share it with you here.

For the Archer Pelican I don't rewrite nearly as much as I might like to -- and of course that's OK.  But sometimes I write for work and on those days I often dream that I were the kind of person who writes drafts quickly and without anguish, thereby leaving time to do the necessary (and very fulfilling) rewrites before the due date. 

If wishes were hours, I'd have many of them.  Back to work...

08:57 PM in Quotables | Permalink


One of the reasons I didn't pursue writing as a full-time career is because I'm so bloody inefficient at it. When I wrote my 700 words per month, easily half the time I spent was on the opening sentence and the closing sentence...and half the time my editor would drop the concluding paragraph for space anyway.

Posted by: cd | Sep 15, 2008 11:28:57 AM