Learn more about how information technology is changing
our lives and our world. PLUS NEWS + EVENTS

Tips for Writing Quality Content

While writing my book, I decided that although I had been writing professionally for many years now that I hadn’t really read much about nonfiction writing as a craft, so I searched Amazon and found On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by William Zinsser, revised for its 30th anniversary edition. I gradually read the book while working on my manuscript in various stages. I finally finished reading this week.

As I read the book, it struck me that no matter what genre Zinsser featured – memoir, humor, sports – his tips apply for any type of written content. I get constantly frustrated lately because not only do I find seemingly endless spelling and grammar errors in short form digital content like tweets and social media posts, but I find them in blog posts by well known bloggers and in articles published by reputable news organizations. Zinsser’s book, in a nutshell, is all about quality writing. To be a good writer, or a high quality writer, he argues, one must work for it.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book, that I think all writers can appreciate:

“The most important sentence in any article is the first one.”

“Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is.”

“Make a habit of reading what is being written today and what was written by earlier masters.”

“Good writers of prose must be part poet, always listening to what they write.”

“Remember that words are the only tools you’ve got. Learn to use them with originality and care.”

“Every writer is starting from a different point and is bound for a different destination.”

“Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it’s where the game is won or lost.”

“People will write better and with more enjoyment if they write about what they care about.”

“There is no subject you don’t have permission to write about.”

“One secret of the art [of writing] is detail.”

“Sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal. Believe in your own identity and your own opinions.”

“Effortless style is achieved by strenuous effort and constant refining.”

“Find the best writers in the fields that interest you and read their work aloud.”

“Writing is related to character. If your values are sound, your writing will be sound.”

“Banality is the enemy of good writing; the challenge is not to write like everybody else.”

“If you would like to write better than everybody else, you have to want to write better than everybody else.”

“Trust your material.”

“If a subject interests you, go after it, even if it’s in the next county or the next state of the next country. It’s not going to come looking for you.”

“Be yourself and your readers will follow you anywhere.”