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.