On writing as a designer

What to expect after writing on Medium for 12 months as a designer. See my numbers & what writing can look like after a year.

I would start by writing about people, but I know you’re here for numbers.


29,358 views, 11,394 reads, a 39% read ratio, 582 “fans” (it’s a Medium thing), and 525 followers.


Writing has a real impact on your ability to communicate clearly. After 12 months, I still can’t communicate everything I’d like to clearly, but I can assess a lot more accurately whether I’m able to convey something clearly or not.

Thanks to writing, I’ve met wonderful people (hey there! :).

Working with my phenomenal editor constantly reminds me how important relationships and trust are at work.

How to start writing?

I don’t know. It took me over 12 years to start. One day, I just got really angry about not writing and… started writing. I’ve made it to my 13th month. That’s all I know.

Useful constraints

A white sheet of paper scares not only writers but also designers.

I decided to deal with it as a designer would — by making up constraints:

  • I write in English (even though I’m not a native speaker and English is not my primary language)
  • Around two A4 pages (3,600 chars) per article (thanks, Mr. Ogilvy!; it makes everything easier)
  • Once a month (as someone who has never written and wants to publish articles in a foreign language, I’m able to publish smoothly a maximum of one text a month; after 12 months, I know that as a non–native speaker, I can only send out a newsletter with links once a week)

The writing trap

There is a trap in this whole writing thing. I’m a designer. Writing isn’t and won’t ever be my main occupation. Writing will never be the main “thing I do.” However, it gives off the incorrect impression that it could be.

Before I wrote three articles about pro bono work, I did a lot of design work on this topic. Then, as a form of rest, I decided to write 12 articles. At times, I felt like I was writing too much and doing too little. That’s why, in December, I published the Open Source Design 500 list, and in January, I published the code that I wrote to create this list. Now I’m working as a designer on my next open source project. I hope it will allow me to maintain a healthy balance between designing and writing.

Questions I started asking myself

  • Where do I want to publish this article?
  • Why do I want to publish this article?
  • Will this article harm me in the future?
  • Do I want to try to write something time–specific or timeless?
  • Where is the border between my know–how and the know–how of my clients?

Tips & tricks

  • It doesn’t matter what text editor you use, but if it’s hard for you to concentrate while writing, try OmmWriter — it helps me.
  • Remember that you don’t find time for important things in life, you make it.
  • The Pomodoro technique helps to get things done.

What’s next

  • Copying the articles from Medium to gregorywolanski.com and creating a newsletter for people who want to read me every month.
  • An attempt to publish articles outside of Medium (on other websites and on paper).
  • Next meta article about writing in 9 years.

Writing is thinking. Communicative, clear thinking — at least ultimately. Thinking in a way that makes something pleasantly tangible. Thinking that can be stopped and put back and to which you can return — rested or tired, sleepy or not, unusually inspired or extremely down to earth. “I have a better word for that.” “This sentence is too long.” “There’s a missing link between these two paragraphs.” This is building something.

I think I started writing and publishing when I realized that I could no longer buy being better at what I was doing. A new computer, tablet, or piece of software will not make me a better designer, a better man. Writing can, though; it has that power. I feel that. I believe that.