Ânia Marcos
Ânia Marcos

How Bad Drawings Can Save Your Children’s Book

When walking somewhere, do you suddenly stop when you hit a roadblock?

…or do you take a turn and figure out another way to get to your destination?

The answer seems pretty obvious in this scenario, but when it’s something as personal as our children’s book, taking a turn is often a struggle.

“I feel stuck. Can I really do this?”

We’ve all been there. We try so hard to meet our own insanely perfect expectations that we fail to allow ourselves to experiment.

…but who’s to say that what’s in our head is the best possible version? Maybe the better version is the one we haven’t thought of yet!

When I feel stuck I start making bad drawings. It’s not like I make them bad on purpose, but I try my best to stop caring about the result for a while. If I’m not worried about how the drawing will look, I can focus on what the drawing is for. 

How can you thoroughly explore a new scene when you’re expecting to make a gorgeous, flawless piece of art? If a square is enough to indicate where the fridge goes, then isn’t it easier to move a square around when exploring ideas?

Maybe turning right at that intersection will lead us to a dead end… But what if it leads us to a beautiful garden instead?

Embracing bad drawings can lead to happy accidents that will inform our work.

First, we need to figure out the path. Then we can come up with creative ways to travel it.

It’s almost never a straight line.


  1. John - 1 year ago

    This is so true but somehow still a little hard to do…I still struggle with trying to keep going when I have a string of bad drawings. I wonder if you had tactics to help you get over that hump? Sometimes I just doodle or make a mess until I feel better about my messes, but sometimes I have a hard time finding the way to trick myself to let go of the result. The good thing to remember is that It’s normal to make bad art until it gets good. Thanks so much for this blog Ania!

    • aniamarcos - 1 year ago

      Hi, John! Thank you so much for commenting and asking questions, I’d love to help! 😀

      I found that drawing something completely different than what I need helps with that feeling you described. Like drawing my cat for the 999th time. Just a quick win for fun, to remind me that I don’t suck as much as I think, hahaha!

      Also – using the cheapest materials so you don’t have that lingering ninja feeling of dread. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but hesitance can come from using up materials that cost money. Even though I have the cheapest sketchbooks I can find, I like to use suuuuper cheap sheets of paper when I’m in a middle of a process, just so I don’t see one sketchbook filled with junk.

      Also, sometimes a 10-minute break, some tea, and stretching can go a long way 😉

      Does that make sense?

      When you feel like you’re getting stuck, what do you usually do? Do you start looking at other people’s work?

  2. Britny - 1 year ago

    Aniaaaaa!!! This is such great advice and a fantastic reminder. Very much needed as I am currently stuck on the design of a certain book cover. Now I have permission to go make a bunch of terrible drawings. Weeee!! 😀

    • aniamarcos - 1 year ago

      Britny!! <3 <3 SO happy this is helpful 😀 YES! Do ALL the bad drawings, explore all the weird possibilities and keep up the awesomeness! Can't wait to see the result after all the work you put in! HUG!

  3. Tori - 1 year ago

    Ania, I’m in love with these blog posts! Thanks so much for sharing. I end up thinking about your posts all week. You wrote one a little while ago about what kind of rituals (like taking a shower) can help you change from one mindset to another, and it made me aware of stuff I’m already doing (putting on comfy pants after my day job!). It helps me be more mindful and now those small habits feel somehow sacred, so that then I feel more ready to do personal projects. 🙂 Thanks for this reminder to see roadblocks as a chance to explore. XXX Hugs!

    • aniamarcos - 1 year ago

      Thank you for your sweet comment, Tori! I’m so happy my posts are helping you <3 You, and everyone commenting, make my day!

      Are you talking about this post when you mention the rituals?


      I’m really glad it helped you 🙂 Thank you again for your comment, it’s very encouraging!

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