I don’t think Oliver Burkeman was referring to museum labels when he wrote this column, but he could have been. The whole column is worth reading, but here are a few quotes—beautiful quotes—to whet your appetite:
Writing is a modern twist on an ancient, species-wide behaviour: drawing someone else’s attention to something visible.
[S]hould you write for yourself or for an audience? The answer is “for an audience”. But not to impress them. The idea is to help them discern something you know they’d be able to see, if only they were looking in the right place.
[W]riting isn’t a performance, a confrontation or a matter of ramming information into someone else’s brain. It’s the writer and reader, side by side, scanning the landscape.
If only he’d use a serial comma in his writing, he’d be perfect!
What’s the secret to writing well? As I’ve said previously here, an awful lot of people seem to think they know, yet their “rules for writers” are almost always (pardon the technical linguistics jargon) bullshit. For example, “Show, don’t tell” is frequently bad advice. In the right context, the passive voice is fine.