Combo Skills: Writing + Designing (Part 2)

This is the second part of a series of articles I’m calling “Combo Skills” for writers.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the importance of combining different abilities to improve our writing style. The more I observe certain trends, the more I convince myself that it’s necessary to go beyond a pen and a piece of paper.

The first article focused on public speaking, and now I’m writing about the importance of developing design skills as a writer.

As a writer, you tell a story. There are many formats in which you can share it with the world. In this day and age, visual elements are essential to catch the reader’s attention.

Let’s say you’ve finished writing a book, and you’re at the point where you need to make decisions about your front cover. Of course you’re going to need a compelling image because, honestly, people judge a book by its cover. So there’s basically two options: designing it yourself or asking a designer to help you with that mission.

Option number one is truly exciting to me. If you’ve always pictured yourself as a writer, but a design mindset lives inside you after gaining some experience with software, I implore you to explore it endlessly and be confident.

Us writers are owners of the worlds we create. It makes sense that we translate our words into visual elements. Now that we have an infinite number of online tutorials, we can learn all the tricks we need to get the results we want.

The best example I can think of right away is Violeta Nedkova. She’s a writer and a multi-passionate creative who recently started designing book covers and asked for feedback to improve her work. Now she has her own shop where writers can purchase her pre-made templates or request a custom cover.

As the creator of your own visuals, you have full control of their creative direction, and you can experiment as much as you want. Violeta did a fantastic job as she applied her knowledge and experience with design software.

If you decide to hire a designer to do the job, that’s also a great decision. You can still be directly involved in the concept of your book cover. On the other hand, communicating with a designer can be challenging if your ideas and his/her interpretations are on different pages.

It’s always a good idea to consider abstract thinking as a common language for both parties. Even if you’re not the one working with the software, you still have to provide feedback on aesthetics. It won’t be enough to say “this is okay” or “this doesn’t look good.” It’s necessary to learn the basics of composition, colour psychology and semiotics to ensure that the book cover is capturing the essence of your story. The closer you work with a designer, the better results you’ll get.

Whether you design or work with a designer, observation and abstract thinking are key skills to keep developing. Both are already in your nature: you’re inspired by the things you’ve seen or experienced, and use your imagination to turn your thoughts into tangible words.

What do you think?

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