I refuse to write according to all the rules because I don't want to right now...so sue me...
I enjoyed reading Zin…. But I think most of his suggestions are suggestions, not “rules” - and perhaps recommended more for “academic” writing, or the “press” ? Real people want to kinda feel a little good about using a few small adjectives and adverbs… because we can.
Oh, pish posh! Zinsser does not even follow his own rules. If he was a bold writer who believes in himself, his book would just be called "Writing". For how might anyone reasonably seek to write other than "Well". And "On" is just one of those short filler words he hates. Also, if he really writes in the stripped-down manner he seems to advocate, how did he get the thing to sum up to 300 pages?
As an aside, in engineering school (in the 1970s) we were penalized for not using the passive voice. A scientist or engineer (so we were admonished) NEVER says, "I calculated the mass of the sample," but rather "the mass of the sample was estimated." It's not about us! I distinctly remember (or, for Mr. Zinsser, "I remember") losing points for using the active voice. That mistake was never repeated.
You made me laugh. Thanks. Sarcasm coupled with rebellion against conventional wisdom may well be your most successful approach to the task of writing. Kudos to you!!!
Zinsser is so last century! The book was required for one of my college courses decades ago, and the whole phobia about using adjectives is as distasteful now as it was then.
I think this poor wretch must be begrudgingly tasked with writing beauty copy for an oppressively spartan prison system. The hubris. I mean, the despicable hubris.