When You’re an Illustrator Who Wants to Write 

Are you a children's book illustrator? If so, you've probably read a LOT of picture books and have found yourself thinking of your own story ideas. If you’re a children’s book illustrator who wants to write, this blog is for you. You’ll discover how to start writing your book, the unique way your illustration skills will transfer over, and when you can start illustrating.

How to Start Writing Your Own Picture Book as an Illustrator Who Wants to Write

Fortunately, no matter your background, the process of writing a children’s picture book is relatively simple. But as an illustrator, you’ll have some additional skills that can transfer nicely into writing. Here are your next steps as an illustrator turned writer.

Outline Your Story (as an Illustrator Who Wants to Write)

I’m guessing the reason you’re interested in writing is because, after all your illustration experience, you’ve started developing story ideas of your own. Luckily, all this experience will serve you well. 

As an illustrator who wants to write, you’ve likely read a LOT of picture book manuscripts, meaning that some of this will seem familiar to you.

But before you dive into that first draft, I recommend outlining your story. Plot out the beginning, middle, and end of your manuscript to provide guidance as you write.

You can download my free Children’s Book Blueprint for a detailed breakdown of everything your story will need.

Write Your First Draft

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or an illustrator who wants to write, the first draft is always the hardest. Why? Because it’s the moment you have to turn those ideas into a tangible story.

Fortunately, you’ve already put together an outline to anchor you as you write. You’ll also have your visual skills as an illustrator to fall back on. As an artist, you have a great understanding of scene, emotion, and expression. Reflect that in your story (except now, you get to use words to show them).

At this point, don’t worry about things like the word count, perfect grammar and punctuation, etc. It’s just about getting your story on paper right now. You can always edit later.

Edit Your Manuscript

Once you’ve written your story, it’s time to edit! First, you’ll want to read over your story to make sure everything sounds right and that your story is appropriate for the target audience. 

This includes making sure…

  • The child is in the spotlight and solves the problem in the end

  • It hooks readers with an enticing beginning

  • Leaves readers with a smile by including a satisfying ending

After you’ve checked for these edits and used my free Editing Checklist to make sure your draft is as good as can be, it’s time to hire an editor.

Then you’ll be sure to produce a top-quality story.

Find Your Illustrator & Protect Your Children's Book

FREE Guide for Aspiring Authors

You will discover:

How to find the perfect illustrator for your picture book

7 MUSTS for your illustrator contract

 Bonus Tips for working with an illustrator

Where should we send the free guide?

When to Start Illustrating

As an illustrator who wants to write, you’re probably wondering when it’s time to illustrate. Once you’ve gotten the final edits back from your editor and have ensured everything is in place, you’re free to illustrate!

The reason I recommend waiting until the final draft is complete is this: as long as there’s editing left to do, your story could change drastically (meaning changes in the illustrations too).

The last thing you want is to pour hours into illustrating your story only to have to change them later.

Overall, if you’re an illustrator who wants to write, you’re in luck! Not only is writing a skill anyone from any background can learn, but as an illustrator you have some very transferable skills too. I have no doubt that if you apply yourself, keep at it, and take advice from people who have experience, you’ll produce an incredible children’s book.

Summary for the Illustrator Who Wants to Write

  • First you’ll want to outline your story’s beginning middle and end

  • Second you need to put pen to paper and draft the full manuscript

  • Then it’s time to edit—you can edit it yourself, hire a pro, or both!

  • Once you’ve finished editing, you can move on to what you know best: illustrations

  • You CAN do it!

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Can You Illustrate Your Own Picture Book?