I recently “wrote about writing” – a post in which I elaborated on the importance of writing and communication, how it helps us think and improves our lives. In The lost art of writing – 3 ways writing improve your game. Whether your game is as a business professional for a large organization, an HR rep, a student, a researcher or a scientist – it doesn’t matter. Writing can improve you professionally in a variety of ways and I summed up 3 ways I thought writing improved how we approach our daily tasks and how it shapes our thinking. I also mentioned in that post that I am a user experience designer and find the process of designing very similar to writing and revising. There is something about the process of iterating through a writing project that is very similar to the process of iterating through a design. I do admit – in both the case of writing and design – I occasionally iterate to a worse product. But, for the most most part, the revision and process of moving to a final project are similar. And writing is a process that enables me to better organize my thoughts, prioritize a project and simply stop and think more deeply.
This post isn’t about simply repeating what I already wrote. But I came across a recent article worth sharing that explores the concept of writing and design much better than I could have ever thought to.
In Writing makes me a better designer, Meng To goes into depth covering a project to write a short piece each day covering design-oriented subject matter. The idea was not to simply think through the design issues he was facing, but to write them down in some sort of coherent way. Meng discovered, first, this forced him to organize his thoughts more than simply thinking through an issue. He also notes you should seize inspiration as it comes to you, but more importantly – don’t wait for inspiration to hit you over the head. I have found my own experience with writing to be this way. I can’t say I am inspired every time I sit down to write an article or piece. But I can say that when I form a habit of writing and sit down each day, inevitably something inspiring will happen just in the process of writing. I simply start writing – writing about whatever is going through my head – and eventually something good comes out. I noted in my post on this topic that writing can often be an exercise in meditation. In many ways we draw matter forth from us we did not know was previously there. It is an art of self-discovery, not much different from design.
Meng offers more than a few tips on both the process of design and writing (and how they co-mingle). I’d highly recommend reading his post on this topic and others. You may also want to check out the Lettrs project while you are at it. This was the inspiration for my last post on writing and well worth a quick visit to see some historical letters and some that will simply touch your heart. It also underscores the lost art of writing and letter writing in our society and world today.