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The VCFA MFA in Graphic Design Program Blog


Chronicling Design: Writing Fear

November 24, 2016

Here you are: a designer, wanting to have a voice in something you love but are afraid to claim it. The challenges: fear, doubt of relevance, and a perceived deficit of material to draw upon.

Our fiercest chokehold is fear and self-doubt, halting the act of writing before we even getting started. Anxiety of external judgment paralyzes. Inexperience multiplies feelings of self-doubt leading to frustrated procrastination. The self-sabotage snowballs and deadlines slip by. Debilitated by our brutal inner critic, we cry, “So much has been written! Is this even valid? We have nothing to say anyway.” That “pedagogical trauma” regarding writing, that fear stops us in our tracks.

Assume you do get started–then what? What are you afraid of? Are you worried your words that you so carefully beaded will clash, perceived as insufficiently unpacked and intellectually vapid? That your voice isn’t….

You’re playing a dual role: one of the passionate writer and the other the voice of the design expert. If we don’t realize that the research we do while writing supports that role of “expert” or of “being the voice”, crippling writer’s block ensues. We all experience this problem to some degree.

When designers write, we claim our seat at the table; helping shape the tone of cultural dialogue. When we write, we help answer what is a design perspective, as different from other modes of cultural critique. By translating and deconstructing the visual, our critique opens up new possibilities.

Ultimately what we need to do as writers is to keep on writing; through the doubt, the questions and the frustrations. We need to keep in mind that editing is there to help the process, the way that the role of iteration in design is and that we should not be afraid to start.