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#WritersRead: On Writing Well by Pamela Bitterman

Today’s tip is our first guest author tip. I welcome Pamela Bitterman who reflects on the writing text, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser. If you’d like to be a guest author for the tips or blog, check out our author information section on the Write Now! Coach website.

On Writing Well: A Reflection by Pamela Bitterman

From On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser, my favorite piece of advice was, and is, “Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is.”

This book was required reading for me by the editor my publisher hired to assist me in readying my manuscript for publication. Right up front, she declared that she would not begin working work with me until I had read the guide cover-to-cover. Although I admit to bristling at the affront – I mean, come on! I was being published for crying out loud! – the book did end up being highly informative and extremely useful to me in my future as a writing professional. So “thank you certifiably crazy, arrogant editor lady”,  who made me nuts, nonetheless, throughout our exhausting collaboration.

As this particular book’s focus is specific to the art of writing good nonfiction, all the advice within may not be universally applicable. For my purposes, however, it was golden. The importance of creating “a personal transaction that is at the heart of good nonfiction writing” where “humanity and warmth” emerge as two of the most important qualities, was not lost on me. My stories are intensely personal, gut-wrenchingly honest and shamelessly revealing. Consequently, I needed validation that writing was not only a safe outlet, but also an appropriate vehicle by which my personal truth could emerge as public domain.

Zinsser gave me the confidence to write with raw emotion while delivering hard facts. Ultimately, the only thing that truly makes my books truly stand out in the vast endless sea of stories, is that they are mine; of me, by me, about me, and because of me. Hopefully I was able to craft them in such a way as to infuse them with life and personalize them with good language, clarity and strength.

About the Author Pamela Bitterman is the author of three books.  Sailing To the Far Horizon tells her story of life, loss, and survival at sea. Muzungu chronicles the story of the author’s unlikely escapades throughout Kenya. She has also written a children’s book titled When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read; A Story of Hope and Friendship for One Young Kenyan Orphan. Learn more about Bitterman and her work at her website:




1 Response

  1. Thanks for sharing this, it really spoke to me. Sharing that deep personal truth, as you put it, is both the thing that makes me want to write yet leaves me terrified of it! The wrestle continues.

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