by Mindy Alyse Weiss

When I first discovered this challenge, I couldn’t imagine coming up with a book idea every day for a month. But something wonderful happened…my brain soon went into picture book mode and the ideas started flying.

I’ll admit, it was a little scary at first. Then an idea hit when I was showering. By the time I made it to my computer, it turned into one great idea and two possible companion books. Wahoo! Other ideas came to me while driving, walking my dog, and attempting to sleep. Some hit while reading stacks of picture books, checking out the list of 400+ Things That Kids Like and 79 Things Kids Don’t Like on Tara’s site, or watching children and animals. If I felt stuck, I’d force myself to type for five minutes without stopping. Then, I’d nix the thoughts too silly to use and play around with the others.

Sometimes, I could visualize the characters and potential plot arcs and jotted down the info in detail. Others were little more than a title and a short sentence or two. I’d love to say they were all incredible ideas…but I know some will never turn into manuscripts. I’m not even a tiny bit sad about those, because it feels wonderful to have so many ideas to choose from whenever I’m ready to dive into a new story!

After PiBoIdMo, I fleshed out the ideas. I was tempted to dig into my favorite ones, but decided to concentrate on existing picture book and novel manuscripts until May 1, when Paula Yoo’s National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) began. I was thrilled to complete eight shiny new drafts by the end of that challenge! They’re in various stages of revision now. PiBoIdMo definitely sparked ideas that are turning into gems.

I used to spend so much time revising manuscripts, I’d only write a couple new ones a year. This is fantastic motivation to keep the new ones coming. I hope you’ll all join in the PiBoIdMo fun!

Here are my top ten reasons why you should try PiBoIdMo:

  1. You’ll have at least 30 ideas to play around with by the end of November.
  2. This could lead to amazing new manuscripts and help you avoid Blank Page Syndrome the next time you want to start a new project.
  3. Challenges are a fun way to kick start your writing.
  4. It will help train your brain to look for ideas everywhere.
  5. Meet lots of friendly, supportive writers through Tara’s blog and the PiBoIdMo Facebook group.
  6. You’ll have cool PiBoIdMo participant and winner logos to display online.
  7. You can tell everyone you’re busy with a challenge and need help with laundry and chores (shh…they don’t need to know it won’t take up too much time every day).
  8. If you do receive some household help, use the extra time to come up with more ideas, flesh some out, or work on a manuscript.
  9. You could be a future PiBoIdMo Success Story! Keep your eyes open for a post full of great news about past participants. This challenge has sparked ideas that have led to agents, book contracts, and contest wins!
  10. If the above reasons aren’t enough to motivate you to join, you can win PRIZES…including critiques from authors and feedback from agents!

I’d like to hear what you love most about this fun challenge and any tips you have. For those of you taking the plunge for the first time, what are you looking forward to the most? You can also post any questions you have here or on the PiBoIdMo Facebook group.

If you think you’re too busy to tackle this challenge…I dare you to try it anyway. Last year, I wrote over 50,000 words of a novel for NaNoWriMo and completed PiBoIdMo with 38 ideas! Look back at all the writers who won the challenge in 2010. This year, you can be a winner, too. And Tara decided to give us two extra days, so you can start RIGHT NOW! Don’t forget to sign up here, so you’ll be able to win some amazing prizes. Then start a PiBoIdMo file or open a journal and go, go go! I know you can do it. 🙂

Mindy Alyse Weiss writes quirky picture books and humorous middle-grade novels.

She’s constantly inspired by her daughters, adventurous sock and stuffed animal munching puppy, and two stinky but adorable ferrets.

Two of her picture book manuscripts placed in the 2011 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

Visit her blog, Facebook, or Twitter to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.