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My Thoughts on Writing Well: Step Aside, Zinsser!

Posted by Cecilia Leger on 2:07 AM

Every so often (every 784,467,901 words to be precise—-but, hey, who’s counting?), I write a phrase that is so beautifully, well, phrased and so accurately punctuated that I amaze myself with my own talent because this phrase, this thing of beauty and perfection, was brought forth from some hidden spot inside my creative brain without any actual work on my part.

Because of this admittedly uncommon happening, I make the very logical, realistic assumptions that (1) every word I write must rise to this level of genius and (2) unless this genius is achieved effortlessly, I’m not really a writer. The natural consequence of this particular line of reasoning is that I give up the minute my writing does not live up to those two self-imposed conditions.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’m not a slacker. I don’t give up easily. I mean, there’s a whole routine.

First, I read and re-read the Wonderful, Beautiful, Awe-Inspiring Phrase to remind myself how brilliant I am.

Second, I read and re-read the Wonderful, Beautiful, Awe-Inspiring Phrase again because now I’m beginning to think that maybe I could have written it differently.

Third through infinity, I meticulously pick apart all the other words surrounding the Wonderful (if you’re willing to overlook some things), Beautiful (or at least better looking than average) Phrase.

All this work is tiring. And time consuming.

It’s little wonder I can’t get any writing done!

Anyway, some time within the last few weeks, a weird little thought occurred to me: maybe, I heard it whisper, maybe writing is a craft that can be learned and practiced. And, maybe, the biggest obstacle of my writing career is finding and challenging all my preconceived notions about writing.

1 Comments


Fantastic thinking!!!! Especially for that hour of the morning. You are a blogger, too? I love it. Of course, the thing is, you are too hard on yourself.Your ideas and thoughts are as wonderful as anyone else's. Try pretending you are reading someone else's writing. Would you be so judgemental? Certainly not. I agree that editing and revising can become obsessive, so I just keep writing and don't look back for a certain amount of time!!!(for example, a chapter)
I'm going to try to pull off your writing. I am having trouble on this library computer in Florida, though.

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