Saturday, October 24, 2015

4 Reasons Why Writing Helps Me be a Better Designer

I’ve been in the habit of writing for quite some time. Last year I wrote articles in this space consistently once every week. My writing process included brainstorming, drafting, and editing. But this year, I’m not regular at all. What happened? Life got real tough.

I rarely have the time. I’m not complaining, spinning hyperbole, or making excuses. It’s just real. With a full time job, my dad’s recent passing, and my wife’s new full-time gig, I have about two hours free a day (if I sleep a little less). In this limited time I’ll rest for an hour, fix computer issues, catch up with emails, meet with the church, and run my kids here and there. And I still haven’t redesigned my tired website.

Today I fixed the toilet. (Yay!!) It took me two hours, not counting the time it took to get all the parts I needed after two trips to the store. (What can I say, this isn’t my first job.) But progress is made.

After all this, I have about five to 15 minutes a day to write. But I still do it. To say the least, most of my writing has been in the form of emails, quick Twitter posts, and some business writing. But, I try to journal my thoughts, or write sketchy ideas and draw as frequently as I can.

Some of these thoughts will end up as an article. Maybe not in as prolific a manner as last year. But I plug away anyway. It’s so important for my thought process as a designer.

Here’s why:

1. Writing helps me formulate ideas, and flesh them out more thoughtfully. It forces me to think and connect separate concepts. Writing is a discipline that moves me from random thoughts to organized material. When I write, I’m forced to make sense. There is something about seeing my words written that motivates me to make an idea or concept more coherent.

2. Writing helps me clear up my thinking. When I have a lot of thoughts and ideas pressing on me, I need a way to get them out. Writing is a great way to do that. Once my ideas are written out, I can evaluate them easier and refine them. There are times when I think I don’t have any ideas. But once I begin to write, I always discover my problem is that I have too many ideas. I just need to pair them down to the essential problems at hand, and edit those to make sense.

3. Writing helps me communicate better. Every time I write an email, text, or creative brief, I am forced to make them understandable to other people. I want to get across as clearly as possible my thoughts and ideas in persuasive manner. Writing is my primary means for doing this. And writing helps me be a better speaker because I’ve thought about what I want to say, and how I want to say it, ahead of time.

4. Last, writing helps me manage problems. It gives voice to what’s in my head and heart (feelings). It allows me, as a designer, to get a clearer picture of what’s truly going on with me, the project, or the client so that I can evaluate the situation from a more objective viewpoint. Then I am empowered to act appropriately to what I find.

Without writing, I’m too tempted to run through life and design work in an unexamined manner. And when I do that, my design work becomes cliched or thoughtless.

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