Book Review: On Writing Well

“This fixation on the finished article causes writers a lot of trouble, deflecting them from all the earlier decisions that have to be made to determine its shape and voice and content. It’s a very American kind of trouble. We are a culture that worships the winning result: the league championship, the high test score. Coaches are paid to win, teachers are valued for getting students into the best colleges. Less glamorous gains made along the way–learning, wisdom, growth, confidence, dealing with failure–aren’t given the same respect because they can’t be given a grade.” – Pg. 253, Chapter 22 “The Tyranny of the Final Product,” by William Zinsser

I won’t say anymore. On Writing Well by William Zinsser should be required reading for every writer. I disagreed with his interview techniques, but other than this, it helped tremendously. The above quote illustrates my opinion of some (not all) in this world of Indie Writers versus Traditional that too many of us are looking only at the finished product. We forget the lessons in failure.


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