One of the things that first struck me about Speak Up was the writing skills of both the authors and the community in general. Aside from an unnamed few, these skills are, by and large, above average. It is of course a skewed demographic: those who can write, do; and those who write really well, write often. So the community here looks fairly coherent and literate.
As designers we often refer to ourselves as communicators; as communicators it is certainly useful to be able to express ourselves in writing. So I’ve wondered, how important is it for a designer to be able to write?
I’ve mentioned before in the Good Typography thread that my knowledge of typography was bound to my knowledge of writing. I’ve spent a lot of time proofing jobs for not only my own graphic errors, but for errors in copy as well. I’ve had many discussions with clients regarding editorial matters — which they usually, but not always, appreciate.
In my former studio I was also ultimately responsible for how all design defenses, letters of explanation and project briefs went out. One of my designers was an excellent writer, but extremely convoluted and long-winded (yes! this coming from me!): I usually edited his communications down to half. My other designer wasn’t that comfortable with writing, so we’d do it together, or I’d do it for her.
But was it needed? I didn’t really know. One of my “great moments” came when my partner was presenting a round of proofs to the client. They had requested something which I had thought was a bad idea and had written a page on why they wouldn’t be seeing that reflected in the proofs. In short, my partner met them armed; but when she presented the document and started to explain they said, “Oh! If Marian has written something that’s fine—we believe her, whatever it is.” The mace of the written word had been brandished and the battle won without a drop of blood shed. Kewl.
So if you can write, do you think it helps you do your job? And if you can’t, do you wish you could?