How to write like a pro
written by john c ashworth
with inspiration from my new favorite book, ‘On Writing Well’ by William Zinsser
The essence of writing is re-writing. A universal truth I have worked to instill in my son who seems to believe like so many others in his generation that one round into the keyboard is enough. I have to make it a point now to ask him if he’s actually read his work out loud to himself at least once before sending to me for review. This has been a telling experience for him, and he is learning slowly that the essence of writing is re-writing. He doesn’t like it so much. Because when you have to approach it that way, it feels more like a job.
When I first started learning about how and why to blog for business growth, I remember reading in countless places the suggestion that authenticity ruled and that just getting the words out there, regardless of their cleanliness, was the most important thing. Perfect is the enemy of done as I like to often say.
Many of those older posts still exist here on the ash flash and when I come across some of them, I cringe and secretly hope no one is looking. I really don’t like how exposed they sound. They are raw and incomplete. I know there’s value in just getting things out there but I think the problem is that it drives this unnecessary feeling that as soon as you’ve written something, you need to get it posted and live and public because somehow that validates your effort. I stopped thinking and acting this way a few years ago and instead have put my focus back where it belongs. On the craft. I started writing again just for the sake of the craft and how it makes me feel when I’m engaged with it. That’s the really truly important thing. That’s it. No one is sitting around right now and waiting for what John might post today. For the few devoted readers I do have, I want them to know that I’m putting in the effort and that I truly appreciate them being here. Taking the time to read what I have shared.
As Mr. Zinsser has pointed out, “…a badly written message can do a lot of damage. So can a badly written website. The new age, for all it’s technological wizardry is still writing based.”
Email, for example, is an impromptu medium, not conducive to slowing down or looking back. Ideal for the never-ending up-keep of daily life. If your writing here is disorderly, no real harm is done. But it is also very important to remember that email is where much of the world’s business is done. Millions of email messages every day give people the information they need to do their job, and a badly written message can in fact do a lot of damage.William Zinsser, April 2006 in On Writing Well