We make beautiful textile and fibre art, but at some stage, we also have to write about what we do.
This is simply another way to really reach the people who are interested in the work we produce, in us and our story, so it makes sense to take advantage of this branch of our work, making sure it’s the best it can possibly be.
And in my opinion, it makes life a lot easier if the process begins in conjunction with the conception of the work – yes, right at the very beginning.
Why? Because all the words and all the rationales that go into making up the story behind the work is there. It’s fresh and it’s justifying the work being produced.
No one could be less confident writing about their work than me, so believe me, I know how difficult it can be. But stay with it, because, like learning to ride a bike or drive a car – it gets easier with time and practice.
So make writing a part of your design process, because words are important and powerful – but it has to begin with writing something, so just begin.
And one of my number one tips is to look at the writing of people you admire. Analyse their style and syntax. For me, it’s Nigella Lawson and Stephen Fry. Clever, articulate people who write just the way they speak.
Now I write frequently – for the Stitch Safari Podcast, the Stitch Safari website, this blog and just recently for the latest issue of The Digital Cloth magazine by Caroline Sharkey. Not to mention competition or exhibition entries and artist statements.
In many ways, writing about your work well is as equally important as producing it.
So I’m going to share my process for writing. It’s general but adaptable:
- set up a file with dot point notes about your concept, rationale and thought processes – this is not the stage to write paragraphs
- keep paper and pencil near where you work – this is often where we tend to clarify our thoughts and ideas, so jot these down too
- begin writing well ahead of any deadline – the worst thing is to try to write under pressure
- make use of a thesaurus for interesting, descriptive words
- think of the structure of sentences – use rhythm, alliteration and metaphors if applicable
- begin by including your dot points one by one, joining them together and deleting repeated concepts
- edit, edit, edit – read through what you’ve written. Take out the word ‘I’, shorten words such as ‘there is’ to ‘there’s’ and check for spelling and grammar
- re-check your writing daily, it’s amazing how perceptions change with time. Edit again
- ensure you’re delivering what’s actually required and that your concept is cohesive and flowing
- be concise yet descriptive
- show something of yourself, especially the love and passion for what you do
There’s a great deal of information on the internet to help develop writing skills, but really the best is to look at people you admire and how they write. Learn from what they do – just make it your own and practice writing about what you do.
And the off-shoot to all this writing is that it may just help you feel more confident and articulate about your work – if nothing else, it will help solidify your concept and rationale.
Make writing part of your process. Do it regularly and do it with passion.
Words matter – they always have and they always will.