I was 14 years old when I began writing a journal. I would write about my daily life, the things I found interesting & fresh ideas. Since then to now, there have been sunny days & there have been cloudy days when I have been unable to sketch out an idea or pen down a phrase.
We all go through this. A block that is for me, less about knowing the answer to the quintessential question – â€œWhat will I write?â€ then the willingness to sit down and actually do so. We have all been through this. Some of us have never started because we didnâ€™t know how. So here are some tips & tricks to help you, reader, get over that block & produce an idea you are proud of.
I am a storyteller by profession. I take inspiration from the world around me; the clients, the needs of the users & the interaction design world to design digital interfaces & design systems. So naturally, writing about what I do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 12 months on end was the next big step towards my growth as a writer.
Before you even start with something youâ€™ve never done before, you question yourself. Maybe I didnâ€™t have stories worth sharing. Maybe nobody would want to read these blogs. I felt that I donâ€™t have enough experience to command attention or that I just wasnâ€™t ready yet.
And then I read a few lines in an article by Elaine Tran about her own insecurities about becoming a UX writer.
â€œâ€¦no one is ever ready to do anything. Thereâ€™s almost no such thing as ready. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.â€ â€” Hugh Laurie
And so I decided now was as good a time as any.
And instead of worrying & never starting, I should write about my experiences so I could share with you, reader, what design means to me. How I got into this truly accepting, creative & versatile industry.
But how do you start writing?
â€œThe scariest moment is always just before you startâ€ – Stephen King
When I started to pin down my thoughts, I found myself staring at a blank screen for a good 10 minutes.
And then I decided the best thing to do was to treat this assignment as a user experience project.
I asked myself, what is stopping me from penning down my thoughts? What is the problem at hand?
â€œIf I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.â€ – Albert Einstein
- I donâ€™t know what to write about!
- How do I communicate design efficiently to designers & non-designers?
- Will anybody really read this?
The first blocker prevented me from starting, the answer I found lay within the sword of the designer; my pen. I started to sketch some ideas down. What did I want to read about? What did my friends like to read about? What made me curious?
The second blocker is a bigger problem. Once you have ideas, I decided to make sure I would lay out a story. It has to have a starting point; something to give you context, it must have a middle, where I focus on the key points of my writing & it should end with some sort of conclusion or question; something to leave an impact.
The third blocker is a personal struggle. I cannot account for your actions, reader. What I can hope to do, though, is to ensure that when I do catch your attention, I maintain it.
Fine, blockers eliminated. Letâ€™s begin. How shall we start?
â€œThe way to get started is to quit talking & begin doingâ€ â€” Walt Disney
Learning #1 Start with an idea you care about.
If you donâ€™t love what you are writing about, how will your reader love it?
Always pick a topic you feel passionately about. Something you want to explore. An idea that you can translate effectively.
Learning #2 Find out who wants to know about your idea
Basics. Who is going to read this? How do I appeal to them? How can I ensure my content is backed by research?
Learning #3 The first draft is not the final draft
Itâ€™s alright not to arrive at something perfect immediately. Keep reviewing and articulating the idea. Build on your first draft to eventually achieve a strong article or blog piece.
Learning #4 Connect with other writers & understand their writing style.
Gotta check out the competition no? Read, read & read. Learn about why & how people in the industry are writing blogs about UX. But do not, compare yourself to industry legends. You are just starting out, give yourself time and trust in the process.
Learning #5 Stay up-to date with industry trends.
Make sure you know whatâ€™s out and about in the world. Writing about anything in general, requires a knowledge & deep understanding about that topic. You want to verify your information. You want to write about whatâ€™s going to happen in the next few months.
Learning #6 Set goals & plan targets
You can start by writing a paragraph a day, a line a week or an entire blog in 10 minutes. Whatever suits you. But set targets for yourself.
Learning #7 Listen & learn
Feedback is important. If you, dear reader, do not find what I have written of value, feel free to inform me. I will take your healthy criticism & create something better for you. I am listening.
All set to shoot for the stars but why go through all this trouble? What is the need?
â€œWriting has made me a better reader, a better learner, a better writer and a better designer.â€ â€” Guy Ligertwood
When you want to make a thought real, write it down. And then itâ€™s in the universe forever. Writing will help you in many ways.
- It makes you a better researcher; while penning this blog down, I had to google multiple things. I hit upon some brilliant articles, I connected with some designers & I read more. This is a skill set we, as innovators & thinkers use on a regular basis.
- It helps you conceptualise stories. Writing about things helps you to really dive deep into how you can communicate better. And that is at the very core of what I do, as a designer & as a person.
- Think from various perspectives. As you design a storyline, you think about who itâ€™s going to reach. And automatically, you are now thinking about your users.
- Creating a community. You are now in the big league, reader. As soon as you pick up that pen. You are already a step ahead of everyone else. You have now decided to share your thoughts & subsequently read otherâ€™s thoughts. And if this doesnâ€™t make you a champion, I donâ€™t know what does.
Now we know how I started, we know why I started, we know I started right now & we know I started at Onething.
Itâ€™s quite simple. Any new venture can be daunting. But that just gives us the power to face our apprehensions & grow as individuals; and ultimately as professionals.
And once you are in it, and you start to enjoy translating your ideas to like-minded readers, you have already become what we call a storyteller.