Free writing software for picture books

OK, it’s not specifically MADE for that, but it is great free writing software for picture books. Text Block Writer, which breaks up texts into bite-sized chunks, is available on Cnet (link to program right below) as well as other places. Unfortunately, there’s no Mac version, only Windows.

Free Writing Software: Text Block Writer (on

text block pro

Just imagine writing Moby Dick this way!

The program is virtual index cards. You can create small blocks of text and move them around. You can change block and text colors. The blocks have a scroll bar so you can fit a bit more text lengthwise into the block. You can move blocks around or toggle through hundreds of them, like a big stack of real index cards.

Though the program is aimed at writers of any kind, with its flexibility and appeal to visual people, I think it’s especially helpful for picture books and other short text, such as articles. For one thing, it helps you keep sentences short, which can be challenging.

It doesn’t allow for sketches, but that’s OK. I just like that there is not a big block of intimidating words staring at me or a whole page to fill up. It’s gentle and eases you into your writing, like sinking into a warm bath. Ahhhhhh.


Writer’s block? Try text blocks!


Writing out of order is an excellent way to break through writer’s block (I just realized the program has the word “block” in it! Freudian slip?).

Writing out of order creates new connections between ideas, stimulating creativity. It can be useful to work just on the middle of the story, or skip ahead to various parts, or to write one character at a time to really get to know that character. You can skip over areas of a story that are problematic, until the puzzle pieces fall into place. By moving blocks around, you can try different ways your story might go and visualize page turns.

I do sometimes use real paper index cards, but this brings the power of word processing into play. It’s also a fun right-brain activity. Stories are indeed like jigsaw puzzles. Authors must make the pieces fit perfectly.

There’s something really cool about being able to move the pieces around–to be the puppeteer! Would be nice if you could randomly reshuffle the blocks like in an Ipod Shuffle …

There’s no need to retype the story from the boxes. You can export the entire text into an .rtf document, which can be opened in Word and other word-processing programs. It’s fun to watch your story go from little pieces to an instant manuscript.

Remember– whenever you download software from a free site, go through the process slowly before hitting the download button. Often they will have boxes that are already checked where it says check box to download something else. If you don’t uncheck it, the site will often put annoying programs onto your computer, such as new search engines. Also, be sure you are downloading the right program as the sites will sometimes have ads that are misleading.

Reputable sites such as Cnet and Sourcefourge do check for viruses and malware, but even if not a virus or malware, the add-on programs can be irritating and hard to get rid of. But if you’re a little careful, you can get lots of great free writing software for Mac or Windows.

In short, you can write long or short. You’ll truly see the building blocks of your story.

It must be quite something to do a novel on this. Hmm, maybe I’ll try it someday.

Link again:

Free Writing Software: Text Block Writer (on



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