My First Year as a UX Writer

I know what I'm doing. Sort of. Mostly. But a year ago, I didn't really know what UX writing was.


Here's some things I've learned since then.


1. Don't overthink it.


UX writing is complex, but it needs to result in clarity. Looking back at flows I wrote even six months ago, I feel like I'm reading something written by a clunky AI. It's not human; it's robotic, impersonal, needlessly complicated. It took me awhile to find a voice that matched our product: helpful, short, and clear.


My degree is in Creative Writing, and while I believe that reading/writing fiction can lend itself as a skill in UX writing, I had to unlearn a lot of lessons. Good UX isn't noticed.


2. Get over yourself.

Maybe it takes a special type of person to struggle with both pride and self-doubt, but here we are. Editing, whether by higher-ups or coworkers, was painful. It only became helpful after I stopped tying it to my self-worth. Yeah, sometimes I was bringing absolute garbage to the table, but that's how junior writers grow: by starting somewhere.


Opening myself up for constructive criticism from other writers, as well as other members of my team, allowed me to refine my craft so that I was confident enough to be able to defend it. It's about the words and the product, not about you. And pro tip? If you're lucky enough to find a mentor, lean into it. Anyone with at least a few years' experience knows way more than a newbie.


3. Research, Research, Research.

A flow can't be written in a day. Collaboration with the designers is a back and forth process; figuring out what is doable from a dev perspective takes time. Finding how competitors handle similar flows can show what works and, just as importantly, what doesn't.


4. Write shit.

I tried to get it right on the first go. This rarely happens. I often felt stuck, and it took time to realize that I wasn't trying. I had written myself off as failing before a single keystroke.


Once I gave myself the freedom to write absolute shit, I got better. You have to write around the problem. Write what doesn't work so that what does eventually shows itself.


5. Keep going.

It's only been a year, and I feel like my feet are on solid ground. But now it's time to start running. A good chunk of my growth has come from experience, and I feel my muscles growing with each new flow that comes my way. But there are outside paths to take, too.


Follow senior UX writers on Twitter. Track brands whose writing you admire. Read books on design. Engage with the localization process. Learn some dev lingo. Trust the expertise of designers and management, but fight for the best content. Track your progress. Pat yourself on the back. Interview users. Take vacations when you need them. And just keep going.