Lisa Sanchez on storytelling
Dropboxer Lisa Sanchez turned a long time passion for writing into a full time career.
How did you get into writing?
I always wanted to be a writer and started doing it as a job early on. In high school, I was a paid reporter for my local newspaper, and later I went on to do lots of other types of writing — travel, academic, poetry, nonfiction, and blogging.
It was during grad school that I started writing online. I loved the instant gratification of being able to publish something and then get immediate feedback from an audience.
Tell us about your background and how you ended up at Dropbox.
After finishing my master’s degree, I worked at an academic publisher and learned a lot about how books are made. It’s such a rigorous process, and there are so many different people involved, like acquisition editors, developmental editors, copy editors, typesetters, cover designers, marketers, copyright specialists, and translators. Before that experience, I didn’t realize how collaborative the process was.
I kept publishing my writing online and eventually started writing and editing for small startups on the side. My interest in technology grew from there. I realized I didn’t just want to create content — I wanted to influence the way content is created and the way people read.
That led me to join a tiny startup in Berlin called Readmill, which made an ebook reading app. My role at Readmill let me wear a lot of hats — I handled marketing content, social media, press outreach, and product writing. I was so inspired by the talented designers and engineers I got to work with, and they taught me about what it takes to create an effortless user experience. We were later acquired by Dropbox, and I knew it would be a place where I could focus and hone my craft.
What unique challenge or problem have you worked on at Dropbox?
I’ve had the opportunity to work on lots of challenging projects, like our dropbox.com redesign and our Android app redesign. But my greatest privilege has been developing our brand writing team. It’s been such a joy to gather a group of writers I admire and learn from every day.
Each of us is part of a design team that focuses on a particular product area. We work closely with product designers, researchers, visual designers, product managers, engineers, and illustrators. We’re always trying out new ways to incorporate different areas of expertise into our product design process. That way, we can ultimately create something better together than any of us could on our own.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but our What is Dropbox? video was a great project to be a part of. It was a chance to answer a big, broad question in a simple and delightful way. That’s what writing at Dropbox is all about: working through complexity and finding a way to get to simple. It was also a great opportunity to show how our voice and illustration style work together. I learned a lot from working with the team and seeing it come together from start to finish.
What do you like most about working at Dropbox?
The best part is the people I get to work with and learn from each day. From former teachers to founders to authors to PhDs — there’s such a variety of experience represented. If you’re in need of an expert perspective from any particular field, you can likely find it among your colleagues.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a professional writer?
Write, share, revise, repeat. Aspiring writers are often advised to write a lot. I’d add that it’s important to share your work too, early and often, with anyone who’ll read it. There are so many ways to share your work online — you can find your audience and create a dialogue with them without even getting out of bed.
Over time, I’ve also learned to be less afraid of writing something bad, since writing something bad is the only way I’ve found to get started. Now I know that getting my first draft in front of a reader is the best way to get the feedback I need to move it forward. These days, I’m lucky to have a lot of expert readers close at hand.
PS: Our Dropbox UX Writing team is growing. We’d love for you to join us.