I was first introduced to William Zinsser in my college’s Art of the Essay course. One of the many books we were required to purchase was the popular On Writing Well, a book that is recommended by many writing instructors. It is this book, which has sold more than 1.5-million copies and is often paired with Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, that made Zinsser’s name a popular one. It’s unfortunate that he has passed.
“Writing is similar to trying to seduce a woman. A lot has to do with practice, but mostly it’s innate. Anyway, good luck.”
“….You have to be mindful when you’re writing something. I keep in mind to ‘not have the pen get too mighty’ when I write. I choose my words so the least amount of people get hurt, but that’s also hard to achieve. No matter what is written, there is a chance of someone getting hurt or offending someone. Keeping all that in mind, I try as much as I can to write something that will not hurt anyone. This is a moral every writer should follow.
But at the same time, when you need to fight a battle, you also need to reserve energy to be able to fight. Something like what you use to tighten your stomach. But that’s only when you really need to. If you recklessly make the pen mightier than the sword, you’re putting yourself in danger. That’s my personal opinion. Some may think otherwise.”
—Haruki Murakami, from Vulture’s collection of the best advice Murakami posted in response to reader-submitted questions. The interaction took place on the author’s website, Mr. Murakami’s Place (Murakami-san no tokoro), most of which is in Japanese, but Vulture translated the ones included in its column. Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer. His most recent novels are Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and IQ84.