Writers sometimes forget that people see a piece of writing before they read it, or decide not to read it. Writing is visual first, then literal (which is one reason why writers should care about typography).

On the other hand, lots of designers seem to think that writing is all about imparting information. But words can stimulate the imagination, as well as engage the rational mind. Imagine you’re in your kitchen eating an enormous, warm, creamy piece of Brie, and a fat, black rook crashes through the window, lands on your shoulder and squawks in your ear. See what I mean? Writing can be visual. Writing can smell and make noise.

This piece by Hamish Fulton reminds me about the sensual qualities of writing; it is a drama in four words. Each time I read it, the rock is heavier, the fall more violent, the echo more orchestral, the dust spicier.

We should try to use everything that words can offer. Neat paragraphs of ‘plain English’ aren’t enough, when we can capture both the intellect and the imagination of our readers, and take them somewhere memorable.

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