Growing up in the beginnings of the digital media age, I have many available outlets for self expression. However, along with many other college students, I have also grown up to believe that we write not to fulfill our own desires but to please others and meet certain requirements. This misconception could have its roots in my perfectionist personality or the heavy emphasis in school on getting good grades. Either way, the readings from William Zinsser’s On Writing Well remind me, as well as other readers I’m sure, that a place exists in writing for personal fulfillment and enjoyment.
Nonfiction as Literature
Chapter 11 gives a brief history of nonfiction’s rise as a popular form of literature, occurring near the end of World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. People began to find comfort and interest in the realities displayed before them in nonfiction rather than in the created worlds in fiction. I believe that this transition supports Ulmer’s claim of electracy as a way of higher thinking and creativity because people began to write, to read, and to interact with the purpose of entertaining themselves and others throughout their daily lives. Zinsser describes this fascination with nonfiction writing by claiming that individuals, specifically young individuals, feel most comfortable writing about things they feel passionate about or things that intrigue them.
Writing About Yourself
Zinsser encourages writers to write first for themselves. In doing this, “you’ll reach the people you want to write for” (134). Statements like these are encouraging to someone like me who finds it difficult to break the textbook mode of writing. Memoirs can provide individuals like me a way to express themselves freely, because its all about me! Memoirs don’t have to include the complete timeline to someone’s life, but can instead elaborate on details and specific snapshots into someone’s life. However, remember that memoirs still require levels of planning and can be improved using general guidelines for memoir writing.
The Sound of Your Voice
Chapter 20 deals with the development of one’s own voice. In print media and digital media, writers must have confidence in their own voice and continuously work to develop that voice. Zinsser claims that expressing one’s voice involves using taste, simplicity, and inspirations. Many inexperienced writers are discouraged by the seemingly effortless style of more experienced writers, each writer’s style takes more time and effort than it appears.
Enjoyment, Fear, and Confidence
This chapter urges readers to find their voice by writing about subjects that give them enjoyment, areas that they have knowledge about, or facets of life that intrigue them. No matter what the subject, include your personal spin on whatever you are discussing and don’t be afraid to “push the boundaries of your subject and see where it takes you” (247). I believe that an experienced writer becomes comfortable with being uncomfortable. We must push ourselves to not only write about what we love, but to broaden your writing topic enough so that you find enjoyment in whatever the subject may be.
Identity designer and blogger Regina Anaejionu shares some tips on using your voice as a blogger:
- What are your passions? What do you find intriguing?
- Which blogger type are you?
Until next blog,