What We Can Learn About Writing From Tinker Hatfield

Abstract is a documentary series that features creatives in various fields. The second episode focuses on Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s VP of Design and Special Projects. Tinker has worked at Nike for years and created fifteen to twenty versions of the Jordan line and brought the Back to the Future shoes to life.

What does designing shoes have in common with writing?

At the end of the episode, Tinker shares sage advice for anyone who creates — be it shoes, stories, photos, or pizzas:

If people don’t love or hate your work, you just haven’t done all that much.

Tinker Hatfield

Today, anyone with an internet connection can be a “writer”. Spend three minutes creating a Medium account, bang the keys a few times, hit publish and you’re a writer.

An artist, however, evokes an emotional response from their audience. That response, be it praise or disdain, is what defines success.

Statistics do not define success.

A story could receive 500 recommends due to savvy marketing but its readers remember nothing. Does the story change them? Bother them? Crawl under their skin?

No, stats do not define success. Engagement defines success.

Stories that compel someone to engage are successful. A story that makes someone so angry they have to tell the world is successful. Success is when a story brings the reader joy that they are compelled to share it with others.

If people don’t love or hate your work, you just haven’t done all that much.

Tinker Hatfield

Has your writing evoked love or hatred from readers? If yes, then you’ve tapped into something real and raw. If not, what’s holding you back?

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