• Alicia J Novo

Visual Boards and Aids, using Canva

Writers are called to wear different hats, including roles that require visual props. Here's a tool that can help.

Back in the day--a day I'm not sure existed and during which I was not alive--writers used to retreat to huts and dark corners and write in isolation (again, the mythology is doubtful, but let's suspend disbelief). They could focus only on their craft and were unaffected by such mundane matters as marketing, branding, and publicity.


If a time like that ever was, it's long past, and writers today are called to fulfill many roles. From social media to promotion to brand development, authors must arm themselves with the tools to play in areas outside of pure writing.


And despite the undeniable power of words, we live in a heavily visual world. Twitter posts with pictures produce much higher engagement. The same is true for Facebook and Linked In. And Instagram is purely visual. So to the other tasks and skills required of the overworked writer, we ought to add that of a graphic designer


Writers today are called to fulfill many roles. From social media to promotion to brand development, authors must arm themselves with the tools to play in areas outside of pure writing.

TECHNOLOGY HACK: CANVA (canva.com)


I discovered Canva a couple of years ago, and the uses I've found for this cloud-based tool continue to expand. An intuitive software, the interface is super easy to learn and highly flexible. The basic membership is free, with additional premium options available. I use the free version and have never felt limited.


Canva allows you to create simple designs with professional polish. It includes an extensive photo library and lets you upload as many images as you'd like.


Here are some examples of what you can do with it:


  • Create a photo collage of your WIP to hang over your desk. Having a visual prop can often help with esthetic and world-building (just like music can aid in setting the stage). It is also useful when writing in the cracks (aka in spurts of 15-30 mins here and there). There is nothing as powerful as an image to immerse yourself back into your fictional world.

  • Create a pitch tryptic. If you are a member of the writing community on Twitter, you've seen them: Collages with 6 to 9 pictures used to convey the atmosphere and aesthetic of a story. I've witnessed people posting them along with their pitches during pitmad, but I'm not sure how agents feel about them. In any case, they can be helpful in setting the mood while writing.

  • Create banners and visuals for your website or blog. Unless you are savvy enough to use photoshop or illustrator, creating custom banners for a blog or a website isn't that easy. Canva has prepared templates and manages the correct sizing. You can even create diagrams for your website.

  • Create animated social media visuals. Use templates for ideas. Images can be quickly modified to create attractive posts.

  • Create a dream board, including inspirational pictures and quotes to encourage you on the writing journey and keep you focused on your goal. You can set the dream board up as the background on your laptop, or if you love it, you could even print it on your writing mug.


Photo Collage

Blog/ website banner

Animated media for social

Happy designing!

Dare, always. Keep writing.

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© 2018 by Alicia J. Novo. United States.