Last week, I write about how important it is for designers to also be writers. I promised I’d follow up with a post with more practical ideas and tips on how to become a better writer. Here are 5 myths you need to stop believing that are keeping you from writing and ultimately being a better designer.
Myth 1: I can’t decide on a topic or name for my blog
The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You’ll paralyze yourself by indecision if you wait until you think you’ve decided on the perfect topic or name. As designers, we know we are our own worst critic. Next thing you know, it will be a year later and you still won’t have one post under your belt!
So what to do? Just start writing and see what topics you naturally gravitate towards. Do you find yourself always writing a response about new mobile design patterns or technologies? Are you thinking about how your expertise could be applied to problems in medicine and health care? Is user research something you live and breathe – something that keeps you up at night? These are the topics that you should write about.
Myth 2: I don’t write often enough, so it’s not worth it
I’d rather read quality over quantity. There were years when I would only post once a quarter, if I was lucky. But, the things I did post were of substance and people still mention they’ve read those posts years and years later.
Don’t just write for the sake of writing and fulfilling a self-inflicted quota. If you do this, you’re writing will feel like work. You should only write about things that you’re excited about. Here’s a secret, you’ll end up spending a lot less time actually writing because your ideas will flow much faster when you’re really excited about the topic.
There have been times when I sit down and then realize it’s been 2 hours and I still haven’t hit “publish”. If you have to think too hard about what you’re writing about, you’re probably writing about the wrong thing.
Myth 3: I can’t think of anything to write about
This is the easiest myth to overcome. Today, we are inundated with messages, articles, and other people’s opinions all day long. As you’re glancing at headlines, videos, tweets, etc take note of the things that really resonate with you. For example, go back through your Tweets to see which things you’ve favorited or re-tweeted and write a response to one of them.
I personally use Evernote to keep a running list of all my ideas for things I want to write about. Honestly, my problem now is having enough time to actually write about all these things. I probably have close to 100 writing ideas right now.
Part of being a designer is observing the world around you and taking note of how people behave so that you can have the information and knowledge to design for them.
If you honestly believe that you can’t think of anything to write about, then I’d question if you’ve got the skills to be a designer.
Myth 4: I’m not a good writer
Were you a good at riding a bike when you first started? Do you look back at the very first design you ever did and think “wow, I’m just so amazing. I really nailed that. I wouldn’t change a thing about it!” … probably not!
This is just another excuse! We all know that some things take practice.The point of practice is not perfection. The point of practice is just to keep moving forward. Don’t get stressed out about wondering if you’re a good writer. Writer and lecturer Robert McKee says: “Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”
The key to being a great writer is to just start writing. No amount of editorial calendars, inspirational tweets, and how to books will help you embrace writing if you first can’t let go of these myths that so often hold people back.
* This is the first post in a 3 part series on why designers must also be writers, not just to supplement their portfolios, but to ultimately make them better designers.
Part 2 – Practical Tips To Become A Better Writer