Working With Writers: Some Insight From the Other Side

I think it goes without saying that one of the only things that writers and designers have in common is the fact that we both have to “create.” I could break it down to “right brain” (you) and “left brain” (me) stuff but that’s a little too scientific for me. The bottom line is that for the most part we are a different species of creative. And many times in our careers we need each other in order to accomplish something. C’mon admit it… you need us sometimes!

There are sweeping generalizations and stereotypes for each of us, some true, some not. What follows is some insight (albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek) into what makes us tick in the hopes of creating- or furthering- a symbiotic relationship between writers and designers.

Give feedback to us as you’d like it to be given to you

This kind of goes along with the whole “do unto others” saying that gets thrown around a lot. Feeback is great…everyone needs it. And like designers, most of us are not overly-sensitive. But throwing something back to us with a huffy “yaaa…NO” doesn’t get either of us anywhere. And it makes you look like a jerk. So if you’re the point-of-contact with the client and have the clearest idea about what they want copy-wise, steer us in the right direction…with a smile.

We aren’t basing characters on you for our “All-American Novel” (all of the time)

Ha! This is my favorite one because I’ve been asked this a number of times. So many times, in fact, that when I came across a “Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel!” t-shirt I had to pick it up. The truth is, like you, we draw much of our inspiration from everyday life. So if we happen across you, and you happen to be a colorful character (whether positive or not), your “type” may crop up in a future piece. Have no fear, though. Names and identifying characteristics will be changed to protect the innocent-and the guilty.

We appreciate flexibility

This one can be a bit tricky. We know your work is pretty labor-intensive at times and involves many moving pieces. But you sometimes change things after the fact, right? It’s the same with us. There are times when we write something and once you put it into the design, it just doesn’t feel or sound right to us anymore and we want to tweak it. As long as we’re not over-doing it, please grin and bear it.

We don’t know HTML and chances are we don’t have Photoshop so everything we do that is picture or graphics related is in a (yikes!) Microsoft program

Maybe some writers do and I would love a lesson! I consider myself to be pretty proficient in blogging platforms but I’m mighty thankful that the “kitchen sink” dashboard exists because if it didn’t there wouldn’t be anything but miles and miles of 12pt Times New Roman text. In fact, I was once asked to submit something in HTML and I copy and pasted it into WordPress, formatted it as needed, clicked to the “HTML” tab on the dashboard and then copy and pasted that back into a Word doc. I’m sure I was the laughing stock of their office for a long time.

Give us specific space limitations

It helps to know ahead of time how much room we have to work with. Don’t just say “you have 4 inches for text.” Give us an idea of the number of lines based on the font and the size of everything. That makes a big difference.

Politely listen to any “look” related ideas we may have. We will do the same.

Do we expect you to incorporate everything we suggest? Of course not…you’re the expert. We acknowledge that in most cases we have no idea the amount of time and work that goes into something that looks fairly straight forward to us. But we’re not morons either and we’ve been around the block a few times (be careful with that one!) so we’ve seen our share of designs. We may surprise you and actually have an artistically, feasible idea!

We aren’t as different as you may think. We’re both artists…we just create with words.

We appreciate and recognize your talent. That is all I will say about that one.


Whew! I hope I cleared the air! Did anything I’ve written above surprise you? Maybe or maybe not. What it comes down to is that we’re both working towards the same goal: to make the world look –and sound- better, one project at a time.

Michelle Krasniak

Throughout the past decade, Michelle Krasniak Oxman has worked as a Technical Writer, Marketing Copywriter, and then launched Michelle Krasniak Copywriting and Consulting over two years ago. Trained as a journalist with a knack for marketing, Michelle has a unique perspective when writing content of all types. Her specialties include website copywriting, SEO/SMO content and in-depth looks into the lives of the world’s top creative personalities. In addition to writing, Michelle has served as Technical Editor for a number of Social Media-related “For Dummies” books and works with small to medium-sized businesses to help them maximize their marketing ROI through the use of Social Media.

  • Spot on! Love the points made and I could pretty much say I agree with everything. Feedback and an open collaboration is everything. Thanks for the good read! :)

  • OK, OK from now on I’ll stop calling our writers and asking if its ready yet and I won’t be huffy when it is lol

  • William Nighthawk

    *Swoosh* That is the sound of paper on the floor or in the basket. *Swoosh* That is the sound of the deadline passing by and my editor calling to ask me if I’m done yet.
    *Swoosh* That is the constant thought process. Millions of ideas passing through my mind in a blink of an eye.

    I agreed with a few of your points but I’m also not the average writer if this is how most writers feel. I agree with flexibility, I dislike deadlines, I like having my options open. Life should be about fun first and I like to have fun instead of doing a job I write [amongst other things which I’ll get too soon] please don’t make writing to much of a job or I’ll feel like I’ve been placed into a box. Everyone should know what happens to an artist that is stressed and feels boxed in… a block.

    I’ve got a billion thoughts that pass through my mind at any given moment. I’m an intuitive and creative individual. I am often in my own world or inside my head. I’m aloof and probably won’t give much small talk. However, I am very talkative. I’ve often been told my mind is like crack. When talking to someone it is like I’m on speed. Theories and ideas just poor right out of me and I need you to be a wall. Think of it as House and his team. House needs his team to talk about his ideas. I need the world to talk about mine. I need the feedback.

    You also got the character writing correct. Though I make up my own characters all the time. I give them personalities of their own. I will include people I meet in my works. Hell, maybe you’ll inspire me to write a novel about a character who is like yourself. You’ll be the star of the book. I believe that some writers are impressionist and some writers are abstractists. Some writers, like myself, are both.

    HTML and Photoshop, absolutely incorrect. I am an all around artist. I make pictures with my words and my graphic designs tell stories. I’m also really good at programming planning to go to college for some form of engineering. I’m very technology-oriented. Actually, writing about my own made-up inventions was one of the things that got me started writing. That, three powerful ninjas, and an army of imaginary friends. My dream is to be a Fictionist [real word], a Scientist/Inventor, and a Designer.

    Either tell me what you want me to do, or allow me to do what I want. I’d prefer the later but will do the former. I’ve found that many writers aren’t really planners outside of character design and settings. This rings definite truth for me. I even suck at planning characters and settings but do so anyway. I definitely am not the organized type of guy.

  • If we’re on to ‘creative’ path, it’s a good point to realize the ‘other side’. Some writers are not that ‘techie’ but the desire to bring out the epitome of their very best is always present. So for the ‘creators’, collaborate efficiently., and forgive the outbursts…
    .-= Anna C.´s last blog ..10 tips för bättre nätdejting från DNse =-.

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  • Joshua Hurtado

    I personally think that writers use the exact same side of the brain as designers, but each discipline differs in its form of output. Nonetheless you have to be just as creative to visualize a story than to visualize a good design. I like that this article promotes relationships between the two fields. Designers and writers should work together with respect for one another.

    Josh Hurtado
    Royall Advertising Agency Orlando