The key to writing well is to use the minimum number of words, writes William Zinsser in his bestselling book, “On Writing Well”.
I personally use unnecessary words to sound more sophisticated; instead, argues Zinsser, I am wasting the readers’ time. The first drafts of beginning writers can be cut back by up to 50%, once you consciously remove unnecessary words. Writing this way takes much longer, but does a great service to both reader and idea.
Quality writing is the result of continuous re-writing, to deliberately remove the superfluous words we are encouraged to add by our egos and school papers. Brevity transforms the average into the exceptional, and is the key to great quotes.
Here’s an exercise. Take a piece of writing and see how many words you can remove without losing the meaning. Answer: A lot!
Or write something new with this idea in mind. That’s what I did.
Would you like me to write for you?
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