By Jenifer Jaffe
I have always had a passion for writing.
I realized the true importance of writing well when I took Dr. John Perry’s Research and Writing Tech course over the summer. I had always believed myself to be an excellent writer but I quickly learned I had a lot of room for improvement. The three-and-a-half- hour, Thursday-night course flew by each week as Dr. Perry helped me correct my writing style. I recommend the book, “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser, to any person trying to perfect his or her writing.
The truth is that writing well is hard. A good writer holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end and can write clearly, fluidly and concisely. Writers reveal their voices, personalities, and the way they perceive the audience through their style of writing.
Simplicity and revision remain key components to successful writing. Sentences should be reconstructed and eliminated of extra verbiage until they are nearly flawless on the page. Good writers must ask themselves if the point they are trying to make has been made, all while keeping the 30-second attention span of the reader. The reader can only process a single idea at a time in a linear sequence and prefers short sentences to long ones. Syntax and word usage are important, but clarity, strength and effectiveness of a sentence characterizes effective writing. A simple structure creates fluidity and allows the reader’s eyes to easily avert to the next sentence, paragraph and page.
I was recently told one of the most important skills an employer seeks for in a potential employee is whether he or she can write. Many people will not learn how to write well because of the difficulty that ensues when learning to master the craft. Dr. Perry taught me the first draft of a paper will never be the best one because writing well takes time and dedication. Each sentence needs cultivation and revision. All paragraphs require reorganization before they make sense, and every draft needs editing before the work can be deemed complete.
As William Zinsser says, “Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.” (Zinsser 17)
E-mail Jaffe at firstname.lastname@example.org