Sunday, September 23, 2012

Looking Ahead to November

While much of the U.S. is focusing on the next election cycle in November, many writers are preparing for our own grueling test: National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). I join another set of writers in a different challenge: Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo).

Picture book writer Tara Lazar (author of the upcoming THE MONSTORE,  I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK, and LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD) started PiBoIdMo on her own in 2008 and launched it publicly in 2009. Now involving more than 600 participants, the event includes an impressive slate of guest bloggers and a slew of prizes -- critiques, art, and more The challenge is the same: Generate 30 new picture book ideas in 30 days.

I took part last year, and although I fell short with only 14 ideas, I count it as the turning point for me in writing picture books. I had written two previously (one of which I'm happy will never see the light of day), and wanted to try more, but I had been waiting for ideas to hit me in the head. PiBoIdMo helped me realize that if I want ideas, I have to chase them down instead of waiting.

Idea generation is a muscle -- you have to use it, and once you do, you get stronger.

Only one of my ideas last year turned into a finished manuscript, but I have written several others from new ideas in that time.

I'm confident that I'll do better this year -- my goal is focused on higher concept, more commercial ideas. But getting ready for PiBoIdMo is a bit different than gearing up for NaNo -- with NaNo, it's all about the preparation. With PiBoIdMo, once you start thinking about it, the ideas themselves start flowing.

Are you getting ready for NaNo? Interested in trying PiBoIdMo? If you participated in the past, what results did you get -- ideas, a draft, a finished manuscript, a polished or published book?


  1. I usually attempt Nano and come out with at least 10,000 words on a new WIP. This year, I'm not participating. I already have a novel I'm working on and a baby due on Oct 1st.

  2. I participated in NaNo 2010, which resulted in my published book, CassaFire. This summer I participated in BuNo and completed the manuscript for my third book. Currently editing it, so no NaNo for me this year.

  3. Not only did I generate 30 PB ideas, but, thanks to Julie Hedlund's 12x12 in 2012, I have 9 finished (not polished) manuscripts so far. I do plan to sign up for PiBoIdMo again this year....looking forward to it!

  4. Glad to hear of such good results!

    Jarm, I plan to try for 30 ideas and then do the 12X12. Not every idea ends up a winner, but it's good to try to get it down! You never know what direction it will go in once you start writing.

  5. I've had several friends participate in both of these with very good results, but I've stuck to my own schedule so far. I always seem to be in the midst of a major revision at that time.

  6. 30 ideas in 30 days is pretty ambitious; good for you, though.

    I know some people bash NaNo for churning out a lot of pap, but I know NaNo 2010 was great for me. It got me writing, helped me turn off my inner editor, which is exactly what I needed at the time. I'm on the fence about it right now; we'll see how things develop.


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