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“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”

Though this is an interesting and welcome admission – inasmuch as writers have historically been the Dalits of this business of ours – I have a couple of nits I’d like to pick.

First, the author, Katharine Schwab, seems to think that writing is just another skill for designers to pick up on the side, as if all it takes is a couple of TED Talks to achieve expert wordsmithery. Writing is a craft, not a skill. “The difference,” wrote Twain, “between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

Second, the piece ignores the fact that writers and designers are very, very different types of people. If you’re fundamentally a designer who happens to know her way around sentence structure, swell – but you’re still a designer, which means you think like a designer. It’s not wrong, it’s just different. Think of it this way: Ever hear a classical musician attempt jazz? It’s dreadful. Sure, it’s all music, but just because you’re a Curtis grad doesn’t mean you can swing. (In fact, it probably means the opposite.)

If Schwab’s article leads to a greater appreciation of writing and writers, then, well…great. But on the subject of “writing as the next most important skill for designers,” color me dubious.



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