When I finally decided to write for children with the intention of becoming published, I got online. I made writing friends. And I listened to them talk.
In the fall of 2008, everyone got loud about an event: NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month. Sounded great! Write a 50,000 novel in a month, join a community of writers doing the same, talk shop every day, and become immersed in the work. I’d feel like a REAL writer.
Except I didn’t write novels. And the thought of writing one? Daunting.
You see, my entire life I’ve been a fan of the short form. I prefer the brilliance in its brevity. I understand how every word must be carefully selected, how every action and scene must contribute to the “single effect,” as dubbed by Edgar Allen Poe. I studied short stories in college, I read short stories voraciously and I began my writing career with flash fiction.
I was not joining NaNoWriMo. But I was jealous. Where was the writing event for picture book people?
So I thought about creating an event. However, the event would be just for me. I wasn’t thinking about community then.
Writing one picture book a day for 30 days seemed too difficult. But writing one picture book for the entire month was not a challenge. I needed to devise something between these two extremes.
And then the idea hit me—ideas!
The thing that really sells a picture book is the CONCEPT. A picture book needs a strong hook. I knew that for every 20 ideas, we get maybe one GREAT idea. So if there were an entire MONTH of brainstorming, I’d end November with at least one and maybe two ideas worth pursuing.
So the concept behind Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) was born.
That was 2008 and I did it with one writing friend. We weren’t serious. We didn’t keep track. I’m certain I didn’t end the month with 30 ideas. But I did have some GOOD ideas, maybe even GREAT ones. I decided the exercise was worth it.
So when the fall of 2009 rolled around and people starting getting loud about NaNoWriMo again, I decided to throw PiBoIdMo up on my blog. I thought maybe a dozen people would join me.
ONE HUNDRED signed up! I was flabbergasted. Gobblefunked!
I asked 15 people to guest blog about inspiration, which left me to blog for 15 days during November. WHOA! That as a mistake! By my fifth blog, I was struggling to find ideas to help others generate ideas.
So I learned for the next year that I needed more guest bloggers. And I needed to get more organized about PiBoIdMo because it seemed to be a hit with picture book writers.
So now, in 2013, it’s the fifth year of PiBoIdMo and I’m most proud of all the picture book writers who have begun with a PiBoIdMo idea and gone on to win agents, contests and book contracts. I should be keeping better track of it all, because it’s astounding. This year I have several people who will be blogging about their PiBoIdMo success story. And there’s several others already posted on my site (just search “success story”).
While it’s true that we all get ideas “from our head,” PiBoIdMo just proves that there are myriad ways to prepare your mind for creativity. You have to be open to receive the lightning, like standing in an open field with an umbrella during a thunderstorm.
Writing is a solitary act, but you don’t have to be alone all the time. The community and camaraderie of PiBoIdMo propels the participants even further. We have a Facebook group for discussion and I am playing with the idea of opening a more robust forum, since everyone is so supportive and enthusiastic.
I never could have imagined the response to PiBoIdMo and I look forward to organizing it every year. It gives me great satisfaction to give back to the writing community that has helped me so much over my career.
Editor’s note: Registration for the 2013 PiBoIdMo begins October 24 at Tara Lazar’s website.
Thank you for hosting me, Barbara!
Thank you for coming up with the idea for the event and for guest blogging!
Reblogged this on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) and commented:
Want to know the whole story behind PiBoIdMo? I tell it today on The Whole Megillah.
I love how Tara’s big idea has sparked so many more in so many others. Talk about inspiration! Thanks for sharing the whole story!
It’s also a testament on how one person can make a difference. And I can’t wait to get started myself on PiBoIdMo!
It really is. A fun month awaits us!
I’m revved up and ready to go! Thanks, Tara.
Wow Tara! Your initial idea is like a big meatball rolling through town picking up leaves, mailboxes, and vegetable stands on its way and getting bigger every year…or something like that!
Lauri – Nice visual! Thanks for responding to Tara’s post.
Mmmm, big meatball. Now I’m hungry!
Highly, highly recommend doing PiBoIdMo! One little idea each day? You can do that while you brush your teeth! Thanks for spreading the word, Barbara…
Oh, and Lauri, it’s not just Tara’s idea that’s like a big meatball. It’s Tara herself. Just hang on…
Your one small idea snowballed over the years. You are the reason for what came after PiBoIdMo. And if you look at the word that jumps out at you — “BoId” — it was a bold idea that has inspired many people to come up with ideas, write drafts, submit to agents and get published. Look forward to another great month. I could use the inspiration.
Reblogged this on Rebecca Klempner and commented:
In case all you people who prefer writing picture book format are jealous of all the NaNoWriMo hype…
Thanks for reblogging!
Love this concept!! Piboidmo! Brilliant! Lots of luck!
Can I just say you’re brilliant??? PiBoIdMo is like a BIG deal to me. The most meaningful acronym in my vocabulary!!! I can’t wait! Let’s chant it out…
Way to light up my inferno of enthusiasm for the great PiBoIdMo! I can’t wait to participate for my first time this year, and every year after! Thank you for this incredible opportunity, Tara!
Reblogged this on the writing blues and commented:
It’s that time of year again! If you’re not signing up for NaNoWriMo this year, consider signing up for PiBoIdMo.
Thanks for reblogging!
This just makes me more excited for PiBoIdMo! Thanks Tara, can’t wait. 🙂
One more day, one more day, one more day. Sign up, guys.
I’m here, I’m ready, I’m excited! Thank you for the inspiration!
And I’ve just learned about Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 challenge – working from PiBoIdMo ideas, write 12 picture books in 12 months. First drafts only – they don’t have to be submission-ready. See http://www.juliehedlund.com/12-x-12/
It should give you satisfaction, Tara, it’s a fabulous endeavor, a great group, a wealth of encouragement! I participated unofficially for the first time last year, and it began my year of dedication to really learning my craft of writing and illustrating for children. I had been slowly learning, going to conferences until then; but you got me really inspired and ready to launch into it with gusto. It’s been a great year and I’m really excited and ready for PiBoIdMo 2013. Thank you.
We applaud you for keeping picture books alive through PiboIdMo. I heard this last year but never had a chance to join. Through YBR and Lisa J. Michaels, it came reminding me again and the invitation is quite encouraging and so here I am, joining the fun, the wish and the hope that one day I could at least contribute one picture book so help me God.
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