All too often we taken certain aspects of our craft for granted– one of which is learning to writing. We casually read the newspaper or a magazine off the rack or on our tablets – we form opinions and may wonder to ourselves about the book or piece of writing. However, all too often, we don’t take opportunities to put our thoughts down on paper. It is because of this tendency that we neglect to improve our own craft.
Our writing is reduced to a set of rules that we slavishly adhere to–
Well, in the past year several years, three writing books have made an impression upon me:
- John McPhee’s Draft No. 4
- Steven Pinker’s Sense of Style &
- Theodore Cheney’s Getting the Words Right
Each book approaches the craft from the knowledge that ‘good writing’ can be arduously painful.
However, each one offers their solution to the issue in vastly different ways—
While Cheney’s is perhaps the most simplistic in approach, its merits are its simplistic approach—it is a no-nonsense approach for those of us who are in the middle of a ‘Writer’s Block’ and need answers. While there are good reasons to work one’s way out of a ‘block’ — it is only in hindsight that we notice that struggle can be an effective way to learn how to write well.
Dr. Pinker’s book is a sophisticated look at the writing and thinking process– It is tome worthy of every serious writer’s shelf. It should be read at least once–if not twice per year….
Finally, we have Mr. McPhee’s magnificent volume. John McPhee is in the top ten non-fiction writers list (with no doubt). His professional life started at Time magazine and he then migrated to the New Yorker and presently teaches at Princeton University. This magnificent book is far better than most would give it credit– Mr. McPhee has been writing non-fiction since the 1950s. He is a master….