Struggles of a UX Writer as an English literature undergraduate

Adelaide Livia
5 min readJun 6, 2023


I started my UX Writer career as an intern when I was in my sixth semester of undergraduate, majoring in English literature. I previously worked as a content writer and copywriter. Prior to starting the internship, I naively thought that those work experiences would benefit me a lot in the internship—combined with my current education. All those thoughts went out of the window when I started working as a UX Writer.

Disclaimer: I am not saying that my degree in English literature and previous work experience are useless in my new career path. This was just my journey of being surprised that I had to make many adjustments considering my surroundings. I’ll explain below.

My naive self used to think that an English literature undergrad would be able to tackle all writing challenges without any struggles—considering that we write all the time. Academic essays, creative writing, short stories, poetry, and the list goes on. Then I joined a startup as a content writer, and some things changed.

Creative writing skill is highly beneficial, but then I realized that the job back then required me to write in Indonesian. And I thought, “Oh! I should be able to do that. Not that it’s easy, but it’s my native language anyway.” What a gullible thought of someone who had no prior education on content marketing strategies or anything likewise.

I struggled, of course, but then I managed to stay afloat. After some months of working, I resigned and realized that the job did not suit me. There goes my adventure of job seeking. I eventually landed an internship at my current company with the title of Product Copywriter. My first thought was, “Will I be writing for products? As in sales?” Ha. Little did I know that it was just another name for a UX Writer.

I was eternally grateful to be mentored by the Senior UX Writer at the time—who is now my UX Writer Lead—because he was willing to take the time to explain everything to me (he is Haetam Attamimy, you can reach him out via Medium or LinkedIn). Of course, I also explored other sources that could help me advance in this position. I read a lot of Medium articles about UX Writing, joined some UX Writing communities on Facebook and LinkedIn, and so on. Some of them helped me theoretically, but what startled me the most was the fact that I could not implement many things I learned in university classes.

In classes, we were given exercises to analyze metaphors or make examples of them. We were taught to analyze and write poetry. We were expected to write a minimum amount of words.

But in my job? No. Metaphors are a big no-no. Poetry? What? No. A minimum amount of words? Nah, more like the maximum characters limit.

I used to go to to look for more “artistic” and lengthy synonyms of “get”. Now I go to the website to look for shorter and simpler synonyms of “receive”—if there are any. Please, I am just trying to fit in a message within a 45 characters limit. Not to mention that sometimes, even when I am already following the characters limit, the text still becomes two lines instead of one because of the length of each word. Why?! I never encountered this problem when I was writing a ten-page paper.

I was struggling, but I managed to try my best—and fortunately, it was enough to grant me a place in the same team as a full-time Junior UX Writer. Then another challenge came up.

The time I started my full-time career was also the same time I started writing my thesis. I had to switch my brain and “writing style” during the day and night. From 9 am to 5 pm, I write the clearest and most concise UX copy. I discuss a lot with other designers and PMs to find out the simplest solutions to resolve user problems. Then, from 7 to 10 pm, I find myself alone in the corner of my room, writing the most aesthetically pleasing words to reach the minimum amount of 15,000 words of textual analysis. Then I had to switch off my aesthetic-writing mode so that I could get into my concise-writing mode in the morning. And it went on and on. I was lucky that my thesis writing only took up roughly 1 month.

My point of all this babbling is that a UX Writing job could be challenging for English literature undergraduates, especially for the first-timer—yet it is still doable. As long as you can find the fun in it (or in anything you do), you will somehow find a way to survive and eventually enjoy it.

How did I do it, then?

How did I maintain my job as a UX Writer, coming from English literature background? Well, to avoid another hundred lengthy paragraphs, I am just going to write this in bullet points:

  • Read. Other than helpful UX Writing articles on Medium, I also find the time to read nonfiction books. After a long time of reading fiction, a nonfiction book can look unappealing at first—yet it helped me a lot. I got to see how sentences can work in the most concise way and still deliver the main messages. Nonfiction books (at least the ones I read) are rather formal and professional, which perfectly suits my company’s brand voice. I haven’t had the time to read Indonesian nonfiction books, but the English ones are proven to be a help too since I can see how the sentences are structured and how the point is delivered.
  • Avoid multitasking when writing. I sometimes multitask in my job, but my point here is that I avoid going back and forth between creative writing and UX Writing. I wouldn’t recommend writing a 1,500 words essay and a 30 characters error message at the same time. It messes up with your brain, it scatters your idea. I’d rather divide my time into two: first is to complete all of my UX Writing tasks and the next is to finish my essay. Or switch it. Just do not go back and forth.
  • Do not entitle yourself to either one of them. I actually had to thank my mentor for this, too. My point here is that I try so much to not associate myself with my degree or my job—both of them do not define me. Because if I did so, it would only limit my capabilities in writing since I had this idea in my head that “if I am an English literature undergrad, then I should write like Virginia Woolf” or “if I am a UX Writer, I should write like I only have a maximum of 10 character limit”.

Other than that, everything that I do is just UX Writing exercises that people have repeatedly said over and over again: UX Writing challenges, paying attention to the copy on apps you usually use, and the list goes on.

This is purely based on my sole experience, so you might go through a different path. Do not hesitate to share your thoughts!



Adelaide Livia

An English Literature undergrad who probably hasn’t read your books-every-literature-student-has-read list. A UX writer. A reader.