Douglas Wilson’s little book, Wordsmithy, packs a punch. He subtitles it “hot tips for the writing life,” and in 120 pages gives 1200 imperatives—or something like that. As far as I can tell, the whole book is one giant imperative composed of dozens of witty, winsome, and eyebrow-wrinkling maxims for good writing.
Wilson hits his mark. After reading his book, I both want to write better and feel as though his little book has opened my eyes to ways I need to improve as a writer—that’s one of the reasons why I am writing this.
His truckload of imperatives are dumped into seven principled piles: (1) know something about the world, (2) read, (3) read mechanical books (e.g., dictionaries, books of quotations, etc), (4) stretch before your routines, (5) be at peace with being lousy for a while, (6) learn other languages, and (7) keep a commonplace book. Each section of even chapter comes with books to read and crisp, clear writing tips.
If you want to write well, read Wordsmithy. If you are thinking about writing as a vocation, read Wordsmithy. If you want to see good writing, read Wordsmithy. It will be worth the read.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss