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Writing to Learn

de William Zinsser

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This is an essential book for everyone who wants to write clearly about any subject and use writing as a means of learning.
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I thought I would like this more.

The book opens brilliantly. But the carry through suffers.

The permiss is utterly important. That it is important to write about a range of topics and fields. And I'm taking that idea with me, as a new personal learning project.

I just wish this book did it better. ( )
1 vota anthrosercher | Jul 11, 2021 |
While alive, Zinsser was our era’s guru on writing. Besides bestselling On Writing Well, he left us with a cadre of lesser-known works on how to communicate effectively. This work chronicles how to write educational pieces and is replete with examples from a variety of fields, ranging from music to geology and from physics to art.

Zinsser’s authority is relatively unquestioned in the popular sphere. I do question whether his writing principles are indeed universal, especially when it comes to worlds like poetry and religion in which ambiguity is sometimes part and parcel of the game. Nonetheless, for mainstream communication, it doesn’t get any better than Zinsser.

This work functions as a cross between a general communications guide and an anthology of examples of general communications. Kudos are granted for exploring difficult academic subjects (like science, music, and art) that many claim to be exempt from rules of good writing. In the examples, he illustrates how effective writing can advance the technical nature of a field and still empathetically engage a reader.

This work has its limitations. It is less of a how-to an more of an inspirational guide. There are ample resources available on how to write for specialized audiences (like science). This work is not one of them. Rather, it is the diligent and careful work of a generalist teaching others how to write for general audiences. He admits his personal shortcomings, especially when it comes to science, but demonstrates how joy can be found in reading about these subjects – even for those who didn’t “get it” in school. As such, this work is a fun read for generalists like myself who like dabbling in good works from other fields.

( )
  scottjpearson | Jan 25, 2020 |
'Writing to Learn' was precisely the book I needed to read at precisely this time. It is another classic by the scholarly-yet-approachable William Zinsser that both motivates and instructs. I feel two things right now: a pressing and urgent need to write about anything and everything, and a great desire to go out and teach good composition to anyone who will listen. Thank you, Mr Zinsser. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Feb 11, 2019 |
TLDR: I was already convinced of the main points, writing is thinking, writing is for everyone, we should teach writing, before borrowing this book from the library. I wanted some more reflection on the process of writing as thinking. My engineering conditioning prevents me from spending the time pouring through all of the anecdotes to get the nuggets that might be generalizable. I can find them in other books, like Write to Learn by Donald M. Murray. There are a couple chapters I will photocopy/take notes from.

I'm still left with the question: What constitutes as writing? ( )
  CassandraT | Sep 23, 2018 |
Zinsser's book is both an anthology and a narrative about his experience with the concept of "writing across the curriculum." He recounts how good writing in other fields helped break down his misconception that certain subjects were, at best boring, or at worst, unlearnable. He posits that writing is the best way for students to engage with material--any material.

Through carefully selected reading examples and personal examples, Zinsser engages with the natural world, art, physics, music, chemistry, mathematics, anthropology, etc...the world of learning becomes limitless and accessible. Zinsser defines three "R"s for writing: No matter the subject, good writing will have Resonance, Relevancy and Responsibility (Accountability). ( )
  rebcamuse | Jan 9, 2008 |
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Preface I wrote this book to try to ease two fears that American education seems to inflict on all of us in some form.
(Chapter 1) As a boy I spent four years at a boarding school in Massachusetts called Deerfield Academy that had two legends attached to it.
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This is an essential book for everyone who wants to write clearly about any subject and use writing as a means of learning.

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