My High 5 Takeaways from On Writing Properly by William Zinsser


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“Are you able to advocate a e-book for . . .?”

“What are you studying proper now?”

“What are your favourite books?”

I get requested these varieties of questions rather a lot, which is why as soon as a month I share a e-book that I’ve significantly appreciated, why I appreciated it, and several other of my key takeaways.

This month’s decide is On Writing Properly by William Zinsser, which is one in every of my absolute favourite books on the artwork and craft of, effectively, writing effectively.

If you happen to’ve already learn a e-book that I like to recommend or have a suggestion of your individual to share, drop a remark down beneath and let me—and the remainder of us “e-book clubbers”—know!

(And if you wish to be notified when new suggestions go stay, hop on my electronic mail record and also you’ll get every new installment delivered on to your inbox.)


My 5 Key Takeaways from On Writing Properly by William Zinsser


“Search for the litter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly. Be thankful for all the pieces you possibly can throw away. Reexamine every sentence you placed on paper.”

My Be aware

Nice writing is at all times the results of ruthless rewriting—of reviewing each phrase to make sure it’s doing new work and each sentence, passage, and paragraph to search out tighter methods to speak your ideas and to shed language that’s faddish and frilly. 

So at all times gather and create extra materials than you’ll use. This fashion, you’ll have a surplus of labor to select from, permitting you to pick solely that which can finest serve your wants.


“Readers need the one that is speaking to them to sound real. Subsequently a basic rule is: be your self.”

My Be aware

Essentially the most priceless commodity you’ve gotten as a author is you—your wholly distinctive mixture of experiences, observations, attitudes, emotions, and concepts; your “voice.” Subsequently, it’s best to at all times write with that voice whatever the subject and at all times look to amplify relatively than stifle it. 


“You’ll by no means make your mark as a author until you develop a respect for phrases and a curiosity about their shades of that means that’s virtually obsessive.”

My Be aware

The hack merely rents and returns lumps of language with out even processing them, like they’re from Taco Bell, however the achieved author treats phrases in the identical approach because the licensed sommelier treats grapes and the bespoke shoemaker treats leather-based—as valuable items.

The masterful author collects robust phrases, curious phrases, foolish phrases, humorous phrases, shocking phrases, lucid phrases—phrases, phrases, and extra phrases. The hunt for the correct phrases is fetishistic and the standard of the discoveries is its personal reward. 


“Such concerns of sound and rhythm ought to go into all the pieces you write. If all of your sentences transfer on the similar plodding gait, which even you acknowledge as lethal however don’t know how you can treatment, learn them aloud. (I write fully by ear and browse all the pieces aloud earlier than letting it exit into the world.) You’ll start to listen to the place the difficulty lies.”

My Be aware

Two of the only methods to instantly enhance your writing are:

  1. Put it away for at the least 24 hours earlier than reviewing it once more. Then repeat this as many occasions as you possibly can bear.
  2. Learn it aloud every time you overview it.

Belief me. Attempt it. You’ll by no means look again.


“Writing is considering on paper. Anybody who thinks clearly can write clearly, about something in any respect.”

My Be aware

If you wish to be a greater researcher, studier, learner, or thinker, you wish to incorporate writing into these actions as a result of opposite to what many individuals assume, writing isn’t merely a solution to document the outcomes of analysis, research, studying, or considering—it’s a medium of all that work. 

Most individuals consider these issues as purely inner processes and writing solely as a solution to doc completed ideas. The fabled physicist Richard Feynman would disagree. 

He was as soon as interviewed by a historian who noticed Feynman’s notebooks and mentioned how happy he was to see there have been “great data of Feynman’s considering.” Feynman corrected him. “They aren’t a document of my considering course of. They’re my considering course of. I truly did the work on the paper.” 

The historian didn’t get it. “Properly,” he mentioned, “the work was completed in your head, however the document of it’s nonetheless right here.” 

“No, it’s not a document, not likely,” Feynman replied. “It’s working. You must work on paper, and that is the paper.”

Study to jot down clearly and fluently, and also you’ll be taught to assume clearly and fluently. In reality, it’s principally unattainable to develop deep and wealthy understandings and attain new and intriguing insights with out doing a number of writing, as a result of whereas our minds are improbable at recognizing similarities, dissimilarities, and patterns, they’re comparatively terrible at accessing and surveying massive landscapes of knowledge. 

Writing permits us to externalize info, nonetheless, which in flip permits our thoughts to give attention to what it’s finest at (analyzing) and fewer on what it fumbles with (remembering).

Have you ever learn On Writing Properly? What did you assume? Have anything to share? Let me know within the feedback beneath!


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