What is the point of writing for a blog? Is it to gain as many visitors and followers as possible? Or is it to develop positive habits and relevant knowledge, and to progress as a graphic designer, as a communicator, and as a business person? The two approaches rarely coexist, and unfortunately, the popularity angle often wins out. Spend any time on Twitter or design blogs and you’ll discover that these sites are littered with list posts of recycled and borrowed Top Tens, each boasting “the most amazing logo design examples ever.” There is a reason these posts are popular: they’re quick and easy, both to create and consume. It seems that, as a community, we are feeding off pretty pictures with very few words, creating a daily “show” of work with very little “tell” to accompany it. In the process, we are all missing a great opportunity.
As graphic designers, we are constantly looking for new tools and methods to incorporate into our creative process, as well as different ways of thinking to open our minds. However, writing is the design tool which many have in front of them but neglect to see. Similar to mood boards and mind mapping, the act of writing offers a unique way to approach and solve a problem. So why are so few of us actively writing?
The answer may very well be a lack of time, but writing is an investment in your education and it’s a way of expanding your knowledge and awareness in a way that looking at an endless parade of pretty pictures will not. The act of writing is one of personal development. Here are a few reasons (in list form, naturally) why it’s worth making some time to write:
Collect Your Thoughts
Writing allows you to distill ideas, expose preconceptions, provide clarity and develop priorities. It is an excellent method to overcome creative block.
Make a Decision
Writing is a way to develop focus, direction, and to define and reaffirm goals. It also creates a permanent record of your personal growth.
Not just the “follower” kind of relationship, but the type you can call on and ask for help. Thoughtful interaction on my blogs has resulted in relationships with designers, writers, marketers, publishers, developers, illustrators, and editors.
Open Your Mind
Feedback on your writing exposes you to alternative opinions and viewpoints and encourages you to be a better listener. This is an excellent testing ground for client interactions.
Learn to Argue
Writing encourages the formation of logical arguments by developing structure and context. Of course, I recommend you also keep the previous point in mind!
It’s Good for the Industry
We all have something to contribute. Thoughtful articles are a way of helping our peers and providing a behind-the-scenes glimpse to those considering design as a profession. While most clients won’t be visiting design blogs, the ones who do will be presented with insight into our expertise and knowledge.
If you can develop a habit of writing, it keeps you focused and interested in learning. It encourages you to constantly explore the subjects that interest you.
Finally, writing allows you to explore ideas that wouldn’t normally see the light of day if you waited for the right client to come along.
Of course the value of the above points rely solely on the individual and their willingness to participate in their own long-term development, not simply an initial burst of enthusiasm. Like any tool, it takes time to develop your skills, and to determine how it best compliments your existing creative toolbox.
Just One Comment a Week
I know that not everyone has the time or the willingness to blog, so I propose we all take some time away from the list posts every week and leave (at least) one thoughtful comment on a design blog. Not some sorry “nice post” comment either, but one that adds value to the conversation and results in a better read for the next person that comes along. It is a great way to contribute to the design community and, if you are new to writing, is also a wonderful way to get your toes wet. There are so many good articles that are being buried by popularity; show them some love. In doing so, you will have engaged in a positive habit of investing in your own growth.
(I originally wrote this opinion piece for Applied Arts, and it can be viewed in its original format, along with comments here).