No offense to the poor chap (though I’m about to give plenty to be offended by), but I had a history professor that probably would have been a better accountant than a man required to daily stand before the living. If anyone could make the Kennedy Assasination seem like just another boring old November day in Dallas when something significant was said to have happened it was this chum.
To contrast I have also had a professor that has made Greek participles and prepositions seem like something in which your life depended. And perhaps it does. Or perhaps he successfully brainwashed me with his charms. Either way whenever I see a participle and even those little prepositions in Greek my heart starts to race, my bladder begins to loosen, and my antennae are raised. I know that something significant is supposed to be happening. I’m not sure what. But I know that this professor got excited about participles and prepositions and his sick disease has somehow infected me.
The same thing happens with books on writing. People like me pick those books up because we like to think that we are writers. Some of us have a true passion for writing. Others have a passion for being published. Regardless of your basic intentions you buy books like Wordsmithy with hopes of increasing your wordsmithering skills so that perhaps someday you can deposit your treasury of awesomeness into an unsuspecting victim like you yourself are at present.
There are some books on writing that make it seem like sticking your toe to your face with a hot-glue gun may be more enjoyable than this thing we call writing. You leave the book perhaps knowing—or at least hoping that you remembered—how to use capital letters in a title. But your passion for writing is about as fresh as a mouse that decides to make his home in the electrical housing of your dryer. Certainly, you and I need those books. Otherwise you, put, commas in places wrong and no sense make you out of nothing.
If you want to have a passion for writing, though, you need books like Douglas Wilson’s Wordsmithy. He writes with the passion of a writer. And he writes in such a way that you will pick up how a good writer actually uses words and phrases. After you put a book like Wordsmithy down you suddenly realize that what just happened is that Douglas Wilson not only told you how to write he also showed you how to write.
The book is short. 120 pages to be exact. At least if exact means 120 pages on my Kindle. Wilson takes 7 key principles for writing and then expounds them into 7 chapters with 7 different sub-points. Here are his 7 points:
- Know something about the world
- Read mechanical helps
- Stretch before your routines
- Be at peace with being lousy for a while
- Learn other languages
- Keep a commonplace book
Should You Buy It?
If you have no desire to be a writer then I doubt very seriously you would want to purchase this. Although, it is such a fun read you may actually want to be a writer after reading it. If you do want to be a writer (or already consider yourself a writer) you really ought to purchase this book. It is a phenomenal help to any writer. Just reading Wilson’s writing style will make you a better writer. For as inexpensive as you can get this book you’re slightly crazy if you want to write but you can’t find the time to read through this book.