After many years of professional writing, teaching, and education, William Zinsser was able to pinpoint what he believes to be a writer’s number one problem. He has recognized that problem to be clutter, saying that he sees Americans “strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills, and meaningless jargon.” Although brutally honest, Zinsser makes a valid point. Writers incorporate big and fancy words in order to give their writing an intellectual feel; “to inflate and thereby sound important,” but in the process, they lose the captivation of their readers.
As we grow older and our education increases, it is instilled into students that our sentences and vocabulary should grow, and while this is true, I believe that it has limits. How do we know these limits though? If we were essentially taught to make our writing more confusing just as our education became more confusing, when do we know when to stop? An answer can be found in William Zinsser’s opinion, that every sentence should be stripped to its cleanest components. The easier something is to read, the faster and more understood the point is.
I found myself in constant agreement with Zinsser throughout this passage. Our thoughts do in fact become clearer through writing, however that can not be the case if what is written includes the “clutter” and “fuzz” Zinsser mentions which are excess words used for nothing more than to appear intelligent. We’ve been molded and sculpted to write elaborate and intricate sentences that make readers cringe, and therefore writing simply and clearly is difficult. It is no east feat to write something that everyone will understand after reading once. Zinsser makes this point, and I feel that he does it well. Writing, in a sense, has become reversed. Writers do what would be unnatural by writing with an overly complicated style, and that is what now feels like the norm. Writing simply is unusual and nowadays only found in children’s books.
If the clutter and fuzz that William Zinsser wrote about could be eliminated, or even just toned down, reading would be less of a hassle and more of an enjoyment. Students would dread it less and, in result, probably read more. Ultimately, the point that Zinsser makes is very much true. It’s concise and clear; just as writing should be.