The countdown is on, PiBo peeps!

In a few days, the challenge of producing one idea per day for the month of November will be upon us. Bring it!

If, like me, you’ve been stuck in a rut lately, this is the best time to blast the cobwebs from your brain and set to task. So…

  • Creative space clean and tidy: Check!
  • Pencil sharp, sketchbook open: Check!
  • Ready to draw: Ch … wait! Draw? Isn’t PiBoIdMo for writers?

No. That’s the beauty of PiBoIdMo. You can be an illustrator and still participate—heck, you don’t have to write at all—you can sketch your ideas.

A doodle can develop into a character sketch that turns into a scene, which might eventually become a concept for a book—it’s a great way to flesh out story ideas.

And doodles don’t always have to become an entire picture book either. Portfolio or promotional pieces can happen this way, too. So, it’s a three-fer—bonus!

As an illustrator who likes to write, but struggles with words, I go to what comes easiest first. Sketching. No thinking. No pressure. Just me, my pencil and a blank page. That’s why I am looking forward to PiBoIdMo.

However, even the best of intentions can go stale if the motivation well has dried up. Obviously that’s what PiBoIdMo’s for, too, but what if that’s not enough or you simply have blank-page syndrome, and you’re still stuck?

Get out! Go on, you heard me, grab your sketchbook and leave the house. Here’s some additional ways to kick start that motivation and prepare for PiBoIdMo:

SHOPOHOLIC: Pouring over the classics in your favorite library or bookstore is an obvious choice, but ever thought to mosey through a shop you might not otherwise frequent—certainly not for inspiration, anyway? Pet stores are choc full of fascination, especially those exotic ones. Tarantula watching might trigger a Halloween tale, reptile research could spark an alphabet book or snake sketching might lead you to that perfect promo card. Other stores to consider include: antiques, costume, hobbyist, candy or maybe try a farmer’s or fish market.

SHOW UP: The Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York City is an amazing exhibit that showcases some of the best picture book art of the year under one roof. Not only can you get up close and personal with the real art but most of the selected picture books are on display too. You can see how the art was used, and check out the story at the same time. The OAS times perfectly with PiBoIdMo. If you can’t make it to Manhattan, visit the website and check out the featured artists here. This year’s show runs from October 24 to December 22, 2012.

TAKE A HIKE: Whether you live near a beach, park, forest, farm, or town square, going for a walk is healthy for PiBo mind and body. If time is precious in your daily schedule, allow yourself 30 minutes once a week to walk off some PiBo stalemate, but remember to open your eyes. Look at your surroundings. Really look. Notice colors, human interaction or simply cloud watch. Don’t force it, just watch and let the mind capture moments. It might take a few tries to get all that chatter out of your head, but don’t forget your sketchbook and pencil for when it clears!

SEASON’S GREETINGS: Halloween hangovers, corn maze castaways, apple bobbing, pumpkin picking, and Thanksgiving get-togethers are all perfect fodder for inspiring new ideas. Put your observational powers to the test and see if you can put a new spin on time-old themes. Let the fall season motivate new ideas!

Music is my main motivator indoors. I jump up and dance, and don’t care how ridiculous I might look. I do it to release energy, loosen limbs, and rev up the creative force within.

Heading outdoors motivates me in more internally charged ways. When I let go internally, the ideas flow effortlessly. All I have to do is catch them with sketches, doodles and scribbled notes. I’m stoked for this year’s PiBoIdMo, motivated and raring to go! What’s motivating you?

Leeza Hernandez lives in central New Jersey. Her debut-authored picture book DOG GONE! released in June with a companion book CAT NAPPED due for release in Spring 2014. She is currently illustrating John Lithgow’s latest picture book NEVER PLAY MUSIC RIGHT NEXT TO THE ZOO, due for release in Fall 2013. Leeza is also the newly-appointed Regional Advisor for New Jersey SCBWI. Follow her on Twitter @leezaworks.

Listen up!

Leeza has some SWAG for you!

There’s a DOG GONE! goody bag including a bookmark, postcard, signed book, signed poster, and an original signed lineart drawing from the book!

Plus there’s two paperback copies of EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK! One for you, one to give as a gift!


Just leave a comment to enter. A winner will be randomly selected one week from today.