Blog entry by Orji Anyianuka
I am still afraid of writing because I don’t know if my writing will be good. And I think the underlying fear is that I don’t know what makes good writing. If I knew what to do, I would just do it and stop worrying. So my guess is that to stop my fear of writing, I should learn how to make my writing good.
One of the main things that make writing good is counter-intuitive - using the least words to say what you want to say. We are all trapped in the idea that the way to prove that we know something is to show off. In writing, we do this by using ‘big words’ to say simple things. I once heard someone say ‘extinguish the light’ instead of simply saying ‘turn off the light.
William Zinsser however points out what makes great writing. In his classic book, 'On writing well' his emphasis is to be concise and not to use unnecessary words - which he called clutter. He said that the essence of writing is rewriting. Good writers prune and revise and reshape their writing.
Zinsser also pointed out what he called the intangibles that produce good writing—confidence, enjoyment, intention, integrity. According to him “The real product that any writer is selling is not the subject being written about, but who she is”. So the writer must show how she is emotionally drawn into the subject. Next to personal transaction is simplifying the message and taking the reader through logical sentences and paragraph flow, achieved through clear thinking.