Again, Zinsser used his words and style and usage to display his points in an effective way. So often, I have tried to use bigger words in order to sound smarter… or whatever. But why? Zinsser helped me find meaning behind those empty phrases I have used for so long. Am I just such a people pleaser I cannot even write for myself? In the last few chapters I read, he encouraged me to find my unique voice amidst a sea of voices that are trying to do the same. Today’s reading caused me to think much more deeply about the specific words I choose to use–and why.
I felt a strong conviction from Zinsser’s chapter called, “Clutter.” I am sure you have even been able to tell from my writing on this blog, but I struggle with how to declutter my words and tone down my pieces. I give more importance to big words and fancy vocabulary than I do why I choose those words. He said, “Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose” (Zinsser, 12). Do each of my words serve a purpose? No. So how do I get to a point in my writing where they do? Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know this will be a journey that will involve me finding my own voice and learning to speak for myself and not for my reader.
Similarly, Zinsser addresses the problem of “Style” in Chapter 4. He says, “This is the problem of writers who set out deliberately to garnish their prose. You lose whatever it is that makes you unique” (Zinsser, 18). This is a constant struggle for me as a writer. What makes me unique? But the problem is that in trying so hard to be different, I lose the very things that make me uniquely who I am. As I try to “be myself,” that version of me is jaded by so many voices in my head that tell me that person is not enough.
Lastly, I was struck by Zinsser’s thoughts on “Words” and “Usage” in chapters 6 and 7. I have never before thought about how I choose the words I do. I especially have never thought about how my words sound on a page. Sure, I make sure they flow together. But, I never intentionally say them out loud. That’s for a public speaking class, not a writing class, right? No. Zinsser proves that is a naive view of words and what they mean to a piece of writing.
“Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page.”
-Reading is Fundamental
Usage has no boundaries that are fixed, but it is something we should consider in our writing. Can we use slang? How do we clarify what we mean by certain words? What does it look like writing for a large audience that is not a specific demographic of people? These are all questions I will attempt to answer over this semester as I continue to read and write and “learn by imitation” (Zinsser, 34).
That’s all for now, but prepare yourselves for my next post. You will learn a little more about me and my voice!
Thanks for reading!