You couldn’t possibly have a better writing teacher than William Zinsser. This veteran nonfiction writer began his career in 1946 at The New York Herald Tribune — which, I believe, puts him right about where you’re sitting now. He has since published 19 books on subjects ranging from travel to baseball to writing. (His “Writing on a Word Processor” seems positively quaint now, but it was cutting-edge when it was published in 1983.) Many years ago I was lucky enough to take one of his perpetually sold-out classes at the New School; if you ever have such an opportunity, you should, too. Better hurry, though: he turns 91 in October.
The other day, Sofia Perpetua sent me a link to Writing English as a Second Language , the text of a talk Zinsser gave to the international students at Columbia J-school in 2009. (It’s on The American’s Scholar’s website, for which he has just signed off writing a weekly blog after two years.) Read it; digest it; live it.