You Have the Write to Design

We are First "Communicators"…  then "Artists".


After reading a RDQLUS post the other day, someone complimented my writing and that's when it hit me like a wave of slightly chilly water that I've been surfing smoothly until it splashed my face; my writing aids me as a designer as much as my ability to draw, or polishing my trophy for my Illustrator skills, or posing ever-so-stylishly with my iPhone 4 (I'm just sayin'). It's a simple premise, really, so let me get to explaining my point because I can already see the looks forming on faces gazing at their various sizes and styles of screens as you read this here writing.

Many seasoned designers and illustrators give the advice that sketching and drawing is a good practice for the . You don't have to have aims of being an illustrator to find benefit in putting pencil, pen, paint, lipstick, juices from berries—or whatever you chose to make a mark with—to paper. The act of drawing seems to work something thru the system, unclogging the pipes and putting a little tactile feel and muscle memory into the works, affording the digital the chance to live a bit more in the actual.

Why then is writing not seen in the same light? I'm not suggesting that we designers should be aiming for Pulitzer-status and dreams of literary prowess. Uh, no. But writing falls squarely in the creative arts. It actually overlaps neatly with design in the area of visual communication—that thing we all claim to be varying degrees of "professional" at. Yet I find that designers can be some of the worst, most narrow-minded, closed-off and segmented communicators in the world. We are visual story-tellers, storyboarding the way that the world sees itself. But should we not also be the ones adapting the screenplay, scripting the instructions that make the storyboard come alive? In my mind, it's that magic in the process of formulating thoughts, messaging and how to reach audiences that finds us much closer to the Hemingway(s) of the world rather than the Picasso(s). We deliver messages by way of images, but those images must carry the storyline or plot to our awaiting audiences who choose to digest their communication visually. But it all stems from the same place. Communication.

You may even find that it benefits in the selling of ideas to clients as not all who come to us are visually inclined and take their information in written or spoken versions. If you can't write or at least form organized thought processes, you probably won't be the best speaker. Can't speak… can't sell. Can't sell… shoot your own brilliant design and bury it, all because you couldn't tell the story as necessary. A chain reaction that can be traced back to writing.

I keep a journal on me in some way, shape or form; from my Picadilly sketchbook to the small 20-page mini book that occupies the back pocket with my keys, am rarely found without a way to jot down thoughts, take a note or two or write full blown outlines for larger forms of scribing later. My book "100 Habits of Successful Freelance Designers" was fully outlined in the pages of my sketchbook before it was ever written as a manuscript. So what am I getting at? Have you not been reading my writing? Write, blog, tweet, journal… hell, just scribble letters on a page until they form words. But you will be a much better, more well-rounded designer if you excersize the ability and process of documenting thoughts and organizing stories. If communication is what we supposedly do best, why not put into practice that form of communication given the most credit for our civilized world… writing. Right?