William Zinsser—author of 17 books—talks in length on the trials and tribulations of writing ‘On Writing Well’.
My initial fear of immodesty was misguided. The best teachers of a craft, I saw, are their own best textbook. Students who take their classes really want to know how they do what they do—how they grew into their knowledge and learned from their wrong turns. Thereafter, in every edition, I wrote more revealingly, trusting my readers to trust me if I veered down some unlikely trail of anecdote to illustrate a point.
It now occurs to me that I didn’t really find my style until I wrote On Writing Well, at the late age of 52. Until then my style more probably reflected who I wanted to be perceived as—the urbane columnist and humorist and critic. Only when I started writing as a teacher and had no agenda except to be helpful did my style become integrated with my personality and my character.