On Writing Well by William Zinsser – Sidi.io Book Review #3

On Writing Well by William Zinsser – Sidi.io Book Review #3

Our team at Sidi.io gathered together at the beginning of November for our third Book of the Month discussion.

The new initiative encourages our team members to read a specially selected book and meet about it every month.

The book for November was “On Writing Well by William Zinsser”.

Here is my opinion as a Content Marketing Specialist on the book!

Please watch the video above for amazing takeaways from my fellow Sidi.io team members from Digital Strategists to Designers to the Director of Performance & more!

How YOU Can Benefit From It

This book provides you with solid, easy-to-remember guidelines for how to make your writing clearer and crisper.

Even if you’re not a writer, this book benefits everyone who wants to learn how to improve their content, conduct better interviews, or understand the English language better.

Zinsser takes you through the various styles of writing (and types, e.g. sports, fiction, etc.) and explains the do’s and don’ts of each. (Which, as a graduate in Journalism, is incredibly useful).

The best part about the book is that the guidelines are easy to remember, such as (paraphrasing) don’t use more words when less can do the same job.

What I Learned From the Book

Like how SPIN Selling is a bible to all marketers, On Writing Well is a bible to all content creators around the world.

I have read this book many times and even taught it to a high schooler I tutored, and yet, despite the number of times I have read this book I find myself still learning more after each completion.

What I learned from reading this time was the reminder to reduce clutter in my writing, not being afraid to write something and “If it amuses you in the act of writing, put it in. (It can always be taken out, but only you can put it in).” as well as how writing is not a contest. (This ties into this quote I really liked “Forget the competition and go at your own pace. Your only contest is with yourself.”).

This book is a plethora of knowledge and is written in such a conversational and humorous way that makes it easy to get through and digest.

What I Liked/Didn’t Like About the Book

I absolutely love this book. Zinnser’s writing and knowledge captivate me and I believe that what makes this book so good is how well Zinnser understands his audience.

While reading it I felt as if he was reading my mind and knew exactly what I was thinking and gave me the solutions before I could even think of it on my own.

He touches a lot of clutter, jargon, and the importance of keeping paragraphs short and digestible which I really like.

Another great part of this book is the examples throughout, particularly, the examples that show how passionate the writer is about their subject and that passion can make a dry subject exciting and fresh.

Overall, this book is an excellent read and provides a lot of insights into the content world. I would highly recommend it to everyone, not just content creators.

Tips & Tricks for Writing Well

  1. Putting brackets around every component in a piece of writing that isn’t doing useful work in the sentence. I think I have it ingrained in my brain to remove clutter, but by applying this technique I can see it benefiting me and increasing my speed moving forward.
  2. Writing from first person and switching it over to third once the piece of completed. Earlier in the book Zinsser explains that it is easier to write from your own perspective but oftentimes when you are writing nonfiction you cannot publish something in that perspective. So he recommends that if you are having difficulties with a sentence or even a content piece to write it in first person then during the editing process to change it to third person.
  3. Revealing your “stupidity” is important. When it comes to interviewing someone who is incredibly knowledgeable in their field, they know it like the back of their hand, whereas you may know nothing. But that’s because it’s their field and I am the generalist. During an interview when I am learning more about a client’s product/service the only way to learn and understand their product/service inside out is by asking the right questions even if it makes you feel dumb.

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