by cheri sabraw
Most of you will agree that writing can be a painful process. Think about the last time you had to prepare a memo, send a directive, pen a letter of recommendation, or create a speech. For most of us, this process involves a legal tablet or Word document, which we use to organize our thoughts, draft our words, and revise the end product. Since writing reflects thinking, most of us labor long and hard before attaching our names to the piece.
Even the great authors of the world have demonstrated how important planning and revision are in the Art of Writing. F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the American classic The Great Gatsby, wrote and revised it over nine times. James Michener, American writer of such epic novels as Hawaii, Chesapeake, and Texas spent five to seven years writing just one book.
And yet, after writing an essay in 30 minutes at the last minute, the day before the assignment is due, students believe they deserve an “A.” When the paper is returned, and they have received a “B-” or “C,” and are asked to revise their papers, they come home downtrodden and negative, usually blaming the teacher. The teacher doesn’t like me or my writing is often their excuse when facing their disappointed (and sometimes frustrated) parents.
I have taught and corrected writing for forty years. One of my writing mentors is William Zinsser, who wrote On Writing Well, a “classic guide to writing non-fiction.” In his masterpiece, he suggests that the best writing is simple.
My last sentence is an attempt to practice his advice!