Writing a Book 101

Writing a book. Painting a masterpiece. Self-improvement. Everyone has something that they dream about, that they wish they had more time for. How to I get motivated to write? How do I start? 

Before my son was born, I sat down with the intention of writing this EPIC children’s book for him. I didn’t know where to start. I knew I could write. I definitely knew I could illustrate it. What about the process was stopping me from actually doing it?

Organizing, is what it was.

“I Work Best Unorganized…”

…is probably one of the worst things you can say to yourself. I spent high school in a messy room and pointed to my moderate success in school to it’s supposed freedom. Paints everywhere, projects scattered. But those projects mostly remained unfinished, unrealized. So much potential sitting around waiting to be written, painted, compiled.

Make Lists

Lots of Lists.

If you can’t focus, restart. When life got especially tough for me, I made lists to keep me on track. 1. Get Up. 2. Brush Teeth. 3. Comb Hair. No, seriously. I made a “Get Up in the Morning” list. Nothing got me back on track than telling myself what to do.

When I started writing my son’s children’s book, I started making lists of what to do. Here’s a run-down, to give you an idea:

  1. Rough ideas for writing
  2. Rough ideas for illustrations
  3. Share
  4. Which did i like better? Draw to the writing or write to the drawings.
  5. Share drafts
  6. Rewrites
  7. Page Layout

This actually worked. #3 (sharing) was actually the most important part of holding myself accountable (see below).


Drawing your book out is NOT just for the artist! Everyone with a vision should conceptualize what they see in their head! Use rectangles to break up your writing into manageable chunks for your audience. If you are illustrating your book, be sure that your thumbnails focus on two things: Layout and Copy Space:


Above are rough thumbnails for my upcoming book about a dinosaur in space. Notice how I am blocking out space (are, not actual space in the universe) for copy. The first pass at layout is weak and instead of investing time into the final illustrations before I realize this, I have only spent a few minutes on each. This minimizes any feelings of loss or wasted time.

Include Your Friends

Feedback is very important. Sharing with your friends is much more than spell/grammar check. Having friends read drafts and ask questions really teaches you how to flesh out your story and make it more universally appealing.

No friends? Find a writing community. Where can I get feedback on my writing? There are several on Livejournal, including the Fiction Writers community.

Time is On Your Side

It took me over a year to finish a 15 page illustrated book. This sounds daunting. DON’T LET IT INTIMIDATE YOU. I had a newborn and I could only work on this during his naps, or if I had the strength to stay up a little late. You can do it!

Here is a list I found on Tumblr that can help you further!


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