Book Review: On Writing Well by William Zinsser

On Writing Well by William Zinsser is the first book I recommend for those who want to learn how to write better.

Money Habit Muse 5 Star

Are you a blogger / a writer who wants to feel confident about writing and improve writing skills?

Let me first say that you don’t need to read a book about writing to make your blog successful.

Lots of bloggers out there are doing fine (or VERY successful) even though they do everything some books tell you not to.

The prime example?

Look at how many acclamations bloggers use in a single post.

According to these books, acclamation ought to be avoided. Or used sparsely.

But they are everywhere! (<- see?) ha.

Some blog posts have many typos too, which you can easily fix with Grammarly.

If you haven’t heard of Grammarly, get this handy tool pronto.

A professional writer or not, everyone writes these days. Grammarly is a must-have. And it’s FREE. 

um… where was I?

Yes, so you don’t need to be a talented writer to build a successful blog.

But if you’re obsessed with mastering the craft like me, you’ll want to read this book.

I’ve read three more books on writing, which I’m going to review at some point. But hands down, this book is the best.

I’ve done extensive research on books about writing. There are less than 20 books worth a mention. And this is the first book I bought.

I fell in love with Jon Morrow‘s writing style before launching my blog and picked this book without hesitation from his recommendation book lists.

Boy, am I not glad I did. 

Update: I have now a collection of recommended books for writers/bloggers if you’re keen to learn more about writing.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

William Zinsser is a renowned journalist and a professor at both Yale and Columbia.

On Writing Well was first published in 1976 and has sold almost 1.5 million copies: what a timeless masterpiece.

I cannot express enough how much I love this book.

Wait, I can try, “I love love love this book”.

See the repetition there?

This is the kind of thing he’d disapprove. William Zinsser is all about brevity and simplicity.

You might think a book like this, educational with instruction, must be boring. Well, you’re in for a shock (and a delightful treat!).

The book is hilarious because of his playful usage of words and wit.

It makes you appreciate the richness of the English words all the more.

The examples of chunky words and expressions by people from prominent positions made me laugh out loud.

(I probably should omit “out loud” in the last sentence along with “probably” if I learned anything. Ha.)

He’s blunt yet warm with incredible humour.

The entire experience of reading this book was like chewing my favourite steak: I devoured every page.


Below are the lessons that stood out for me.
  1. You have to write every day.
  2. Use active verbs.
  3. Avoid the clutter at all costs.
  4. Master the craft.
  5. Broaden your vocabulary.

It’s comforting to know that even a prolific writer like him thinks writing is hard.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser is a must-read for writers of nonfiction.

Oh scrap that: it’s for everyone who spends lots of time emailing, writing a report, and so on.

The book is easy to read and understand.

I need to re-read the Book review section on the book because I know I didn’t do it justice.

That’s another first-rate quality of the book.

You can jump from chapter to chapter as he devotes each chapter to an individual purpose of writing with guidelines and examples, i.e. book review.Money Habit Muse 5 Star

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