Ânia Marcos
Ânia Marcos

Overcoming Writer’s Block :: Creating a Picture Book From Scratch (Part 5)

In this blog series, I’ve been sharing all my struggles and discoveries as I’m creating my picture book. I wrote about finding a theme (part 1), a story (part 2), designing my characters (part 3) and truly getting to know them and their past (part 4) in order to make them come alive…

Today in part 5, I’m sharing one of the biggest struggles I faced so far:

How can we keep going when we’re stuck?

Even though I had my story spine and knew my characters inside out, I couldn’t write the script. I had a vague idea of what was happening where, but I couldn’t connect the dots.

I tried taking breaks, changing gears, talking with friends… nothing worked.

Feeling frustrated, I sat down and grabbed a pile of children’s books I had at home. I decided to deconstruct each and every one of them: What’s the story spine? How many images are on each section, and why?

As I compared my story to theirs, things started to click! I began understanding the different rhythms of each story and how mine wasn’t clear. At last, I understood where I got stuck!!!

I grabbed a huge board and started laying out pieces of paper that represented my book spreads (shout out to Shawna JC Tenney for the idea on her blog!):

One of my first attempts. As you can see, there are a lot of white spreads in between, which clearly illustrates how I had no idea what I was doing with my story… And that’s great! I don’t know what to fix unless I know it’s broken.

The idea was very simple: if a picture book usually has 32 pages, then let’s lay those out and start thumbnailing what goes into each spread until we fill them all. The only difference is that I wasn’t going to spend any time on composition or references yet. Just some loose lines that represent what’s happening.

As I was working through it, I was able to pinpoint what parts weren’t flowing well and adjust the scenes. Even though that didn’t get me a final script, it gave me a lot of clarity.

Feeling stuck is frustrating because it’s vague.

…but that isn’t a sign to stop. Once we manage to understand where we’re stuck and act upon it, then we’re making progress! Onwards!!!

Missed Chibi? We had a quarrel regarding who had the rights to the carpet grounds… Pretty sure she won.

Next step: creating the actual thumbnails for the book!♥ Subscribe to my newsletter and get an email when the post is up!


  1. Carolyn - 4 years ago

    Love the insight of just laying it all out on a wall and getting something, anything, down on paper to get a sense of the whole. Not perfect or even legible.. But just for the rhythm. <3

    • aniamarcos - 4 years ago

      Thank you, Carolyn! So glad you enjoy the post <3

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