Writing Better

I don’t know why, but writing become easier when I think of it as speaking and not writing. When I sit down to write, my body stiffens and I’m  unable to think clearly. However, when I visualize a casual conversation with a good friend, the words are easier.

I got this idea from a book titled “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. In the book, Zinsser gives us the following four principles to improve our writing:

  1. Simplicity – This is the principle of writing without airs. We are prisoners of the idea that big words are more important little ones. Instead of writing to impress, we need to write to be understood. We don’t have to write for an audience, but for just one person. The one person who is reading our material at any given point in time. In my case, this is literally true.This blog has only one reader – my wife.
  2. Clarity – This is the principle of writing without clutter. Every sentence we write must have a definite purpose. Every word in every sentence must do its work. Writing is hard work. Hard writing makes easy reading and vice-verse. If you can think clearly, you can write clearly.
  3. Brevity – Cut the first draft by 50%. Do not use two words where one would suffice.
  4. Humanity – Sound natural. Be yourself. This is the part where I use the visualization technique mentioned above. To be myself, I need to relax. To relax, i need to think of writing as a conversation with a good friend.

Although the above principles are meant for non-fiction writers, I believe it will help anyone who wishes to write better.

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