I've been working on the concept of de-cluttering this summer though more in terms of my closet, cupboards, basement piles, etc. I hadn't thought of the idea of clutter as it relates to writing until picking up this book.
Zinsser discusses the idea that, "the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components," and, in doing so, we must, "clear our heads of clutter. Clear thinking becomes clear writing."
While I know some writers edit as they go, I love the idea of free writing and knocking out a rough draft without too much editing along the way; however, I wholeheartedly agree with Zinsser that fluency does not necessarily mean good writing and, "the essence of writing is re-writing."
Writing is hard work, plain and simple. We must sit butt-in-chair and put in the work. For me, that typically means writing the first draft and then going back to edit, modify, and prune words in an effort to tighten and strengthen the story as, in Zinsser's words, "writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it that shouldn't be there."
So de-clutter those stories. Prune the weeds. Every word counts.
Per Zinsser, "clutter is the enemy." He gives some concrete examples of using shorter rather than longer words in an effort to simplify (e.g., assistance/help). I have found this book quite helpful thus far and recommend you check it out if you haven't already.
He further says, "Examine every word you put on paper. You'll find a surprising number that don't serve any purpose."
As a picture book author, this is advice I will, and must, heed as every word counts and must drive the story forward.
Looking forward to pruning and weeding my words in the process. I'd love to hear your process for doing so should you want to share.