If I could sum up a few of Zinsser’s chapters in one word, it would be this: individuality. William Zinsser’s message that came across to me and clearly so many others, according to the cover of his book “On Writing Well”, was that it is crucial in writing to make your writing your own and give it an identity. We have seen this message elicited from multiple text we have read so far this semester, proving that it is a goal we should all wish to aspire to. Chapters 11, 14, 20, and 21 circle around the same ideas about being true to one’s writing, fiction vs. nonfiction, and confidence and connection to one’s work, among other topics. As we embark on reading Zinsser’s text over the course of the next few weeks, I believe we will learn a lot about writing well and better connecting with our audience. So, let’s go!
I have always personally loved fiction. Actually, I’d have to say as a child, I really loved fiction. I remember working on projects in school where I had to research nonfiction books, praying that I would at least have an interesting topic. One thing I didn’t really think about until now is how much my world revolves around non-fiction writing now. As a child, it is easy to get sucked into the world of Harry Potter or Twilight and think that there are no other types of writing. However, in this day we live in, we are exposed to nonfiction writing daily. Newspapers, articles online, magazines and other forms of information are all we see on a day-to-day basis and I’ll be the first to admit that I love it because it makes our society run accordingly. Before nonfiction, 19th century literature was the main form of entertainment. Nonfiction did not actually come into play until world events began occurring, resulting in nonfiction as the new “American Literature”. It is funny to think that there was no such thing as nonfiction as it appears today over 200 years ago. It serves as our main form of communication, despite what Zinsser says. He does not believe that nonfiction writing is a form of journalism because it is actually real. I have to disagree with this statement because nonfiction writing is actually similar to journalism due to the fact that both kinds of writers possess the ability to search for information and learn about their topic. Although it may not be identical, I think Zinsser is a little quick to judge journalists and not take into account all of the facts. I believe that this form of writing is still new to us and it will take a little bit of time to learn to appreciate it to the full extent.
Another main concept spread throughout the four chapters we read regards staying true to your writing. You may be wondering, “But how do I do this?”. Zinsser claims it is a long road to get there, but it is worth it in the end. An example that he brought up was very interesting to me; he mentions how when a professor assigns a paper, he or she does not want to receive identical writing with the same facts. Instead, they want to see the writer’s personal voice come out in that paper, whether that involves bringing a personal experience into the text or emphasizing a sense of place. This not only applies to writing class papers, but writing in general. Bringing your own personal experience into your writing enhances credibility and creates a relationship of trust between you and your readers.
A final message Zinsser expresses in the four chapters includes not taking yourself too seriously. If you make your material light and fun and interesting, it will be hard for readers to not engage in your writing and enjoy themselves. So make things entertaining and not too serious, depending on your topic, and just enjoy writing. After all, most people who choose this as a profession choose it for a reason, so it’s better to write about things you enjoy!
Zinsser raises a lot of great points in his writing. From talking about nonfiction as a form of the new literary to the ways we can stay true to our writing, he brings a lot of information about writing to the forefront and I am interested in learning more about how to make my writing better in the future. That’s all for now!