A year ago, I acquired William Zinsser’s On Writing Well at a garage sale. Last week I took a crack at it and couldn’t put it down because, obviously, he writes so well. His advice on “Who am I writing for?” alone is worth the price of the book:
You are writing for yourself. Don’t try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience—every reader is a different person… Don’t worry about whether the reader will “get it” if you indulge a sudden impulse for humor. If it amuses you in the act of writing, put it in. (It can always be taken out, but only you can put it in.) You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for. If you lose the dullards back in the dust, you don’t want them anyway.
I feel like an idiot for leaving this book in a box all these times without reading it, but at least I am not the one who sold it for a buck.