How Writing Makes You a Better Designer

One of my ongoing goals as a graphic designer is to continually be improving. When I first started out, this was easy to do. College gave me a place to learn new techniques, styles, or ways of thinking. My time there served me well.

But more recently, I feel like I’ve been plateauing. I haven’t been learning or challenging myself like I’ve wanted to. Long story short, I realized I need to write (way) more. 

It’s easy to overlook because it doesn’t seem like it has much to do with design. But if you think about it, a lot of what we do requires writing when we’re not designing.

I noticed that other designers I idolized write quite a bit. They’re very good and articulate when they write. It gets them noticed. They’re not any better or worse than the next person, but taking the viewer along for the story or the creative process can set what they do apart from the pack.

It inspired me to grab a sketchbook and start writing out some ideas as I observe them — either for a particular project or for the heck of it. I’m already noticing that I’m able to better brainstorm new ideas or ways to approach my work.

By being more descriptive, its helping with client feedback. I’m getting less pushback for changes because they better understand what’s going on in my head. It’s helping them understand my creative process and why what I did matters to the rest of the work I’m doing. It’s so easy to forget this when we go off in our own little world and forget about everyone else.

Not everyone understands how a designer’s brain works (and that’s fine!) It’s easy to assume a non-creative person would think otherwise, but it’s nuts when you step back and look at it from the outside. The disconnect is what leads to the famous client from hell” stories that include a client art directing the work.

Being able to write clears up a lot of misconceptions. It gets everyone on the same page and helps streamline the design process from start to finish.

You don’t need to start a blog tomorrow or become an influencer on Medium. It could grow into that, but its easier to start small. Work on your email messages you’re writing to your clients. Write a few extra notes on what’s going through your mind while you’re designing something.

See where it takes you. It’s made a noticable difference in a few months to me and there’s clear a benefit to be had from it.

Sign up for Finally Friday

Get weekly updates from me, as well as a free sample copy of my typeface Harvest Stout!

Daniel Nisbet will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. You acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.