1 min read

Write Like a Designer? Or Coder?

Matthew Moore has written a nice piece on writing like a designer (namely, taking time to craft, substract, polish):

When writing, eliminate the superfluous and focus on the goal of your message, just like when designing. Anything not in support of that goal should be questioned.

Applying your familiar process is a way designers can become stronger writers. It takes time and determined practice, but spreading your thoughts about what you’ve learned is important. We all benefit from it.

There’s one last similarity between designing and writing. If your project’s not working out how you’d like, you can solve it the same way: drag it into the trash and start over.

A few other people come to mind in this respect.

One is NZ tech journalist Bill Bennett, who writes frequently about this. (As an aside, going through his posts for this post I discovered an interesting piece of his on writing and rhythm, which I intend to investigate later). Another is William “omit needless words!” Strunk, of Strunk and White’s Elements of Typographic Style (see also the whole Plain English movement).

However, conversely, I think of the blogger and reporter movement. For example Jason Kottke (recently interviewed on Design Matters) who not only is a prolific blogger, but also notes seeing how people such as Cory Doctorow learn to hammer out stuff.

Even more personally, when I was involved with Johnny Holland, Jeroen used to talk about posts being 80% done: i.e. it was better to get it out rather than craft it forever. I have to say that I learned about getting posts out when doing daily conference report duty!

So, to explain my title, I’d say that that while sometimes it’s worth writing like a designer, sometimes it’s worth writing like a coder, getting something up and being prepared to change it rather than sitting on something for forever. (Or, to do a spin on that famous tech mantra—real writers publish).