Month: February 2013

Writing Is Not a Contest


Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

25 February 2013

“Writing Is Not a Contest” William Zinsser

In most field or profession, being competitive is highly encouraged, as it gives one the urge to compete and excel that could eventually lead to success. However, in writing it does not apply. For “Writing is not a contest,” just as William Zinsser stresses on On Writing Well’s Bits and Pieces (1).


Zinsser further stresses, “. . .many writers are paralyzed by the thought that they are competing with everybody who is trying to write and presumably doing it better,” (2). Indeed, I noticed that several times on some fellows’ writings. Some even write post (each article published through blogs) just solely criticizing others’ writings, which I find truly nonsensical (and not to mention unethical). For regardless of expertise and genre, no one writes to compete.

In fact, in academic, peer review is extremely valuable, that our English teachers always allot a day for our peers or classmates to review our drafts, and before we even submit it for final grading. For to have other pairs of eyes to review our essays can help on proofreading typographical even grammatical errors. In addition, different minds can bring refreshing ideas. Therefore, peer review is indeed invaluable.

Zinsser also emphasizes, “every writer is starting from a different point and is bound for destination” (3). My understanding to this: Just as we are distinct from one another, our views in life are different as well. So there is really no point of comparison.

On criticizing a fellow, and putting it on writing, by engaging in such, we are leveling ourselves to a caliber of a gossip monger. So, please, don’t do that. Let us pay respect to our profession, and let our peers have some dignity too.

Finally, how can we appeal to our readers’ pathos, if we have so much ego? Actually, just the thought that we’d be writing to compete does not sound right to me at all. For how can we write meaningfully, if the tone of our writing is competing? So, compete not, when you write. Neither, write to compete.