To write in the fewest possible words, as clearly as possible, exactly what one meant, that was his only lesson in the art of writing--Virginia Woolf on her father Leslie Stephen.
Who said, “Learning to write is learning to think?”
I would realize that time and again in my apprenticeship. You delete a tangled sentence, and think again, “What exactly am I trying to say? What is the impression that I am trying to convey?”
It’s the same when I look at my children’s work, or the work of students (when I used to teach writing). I ask, “What exactly are you trying to say?”. It’s no good trying to sort a tangled sentence. Just go back to the original thought, and make sure that what you are saying represents it.
Clarity first, beauty second.