This place matters

This place matters

Thursday, April 8, 2010


In his book "On Writing Well," William Zinsser talks about eliminating clutter in writing. He says writing should be free of clunky constructions, superfluous adverbs, and unnecessary adjectives. That notion has probably had a greater effect on my writing than anything since "Harriet the Spy." As a tech writer, I think it's my responsibility to make the instructions I write as close to haiku as I can. The fewer the words, the easier to read, the clearer the meaning. That's vital in tech writing, and I'm pretty proud of my tiny word counts at work.
I'm not sure this obsessive word-pruning is so great outside of work. Everything I write seems so skeletal these days; even my blog is like a bonsai tree. When I submitted my essay for This I Believe, my editor said she couldn't remember the last time she'd had to tell anyone that their essay was too short. It was a little weird trying to cram verbiage into an essay that only needed to be 500 words long - it gave me strange high school flashbacks. I felt like I should try using a bigger font and cheating the margins.
This is coming up again as I write this blog; everything I post feels so skimpy. I guess I need to go about finding a way to put clothes back on my writing. Without reverting to cluttered writing.

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