Writing Well – Keeping Things Simple

Many writers think that using big, complicated words in their writing will make them seem smarter and make their writing better. I too used to think like this. In high school my essays consisted of many words I didn’t even know the meanings of. Throughout high school we have been taught to make our writing more interesting by using a thesaurus and expanding our vocabulary. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. A student’s pursuit of writing the perfect piece often leads to cluttered and overcomplicated works.

Students tend to try to write too much and that leads to cluttered writing. William Zinsser argues that “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon”(85). He states that ‘clutter’ is one of the biggest reasons behind ones struggle to write. Inexperienced writers feel the urge to use big and complex words and think that doing so will improve their essay but they are wrong. The use of big words is not what makes an essay better than one that has simplicity from beginning to end. To write an essay that is interesting we must first “clear our heads of clutter” (Zinsser,86). We have to get rid of all the abstract thoughts floating around our heads because “clear thinking becomes clear writing; one cannot exist without the other”(Zinsser,86). In his article, Zinsser defends the reader, he says “If the reader is lost, it’s usually because the writer hasn’t been careful enough”(Zinsser,87). He is arguing that it is not the readersfault if they are lost when reading, it is the writers. The writer has filled the essay with clutter and useless information and the reader loses interest because there is no flow in the writing. Nothing is keeping the reader hooked onto the piece. This is something I have experienced many times during high school. Many times when a friend would ask me to proofread their writing I would end up lost…

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