by Laura Gehl

In November, there are no bad ideas. You write down every single thought that comes into your brain. And that’s good. But then…December comes. And now there are bad ideas. Bad ideas that you need to separate out from your other ideas. So you can focus on pursuing your promising ideas without all the clutter holding you back.

To help categorize your PiBoIdMo ideas, I’ve created this handy diagram, adapted from What If? by Randall Monroe.



Start by putting all your ideas quickly into the “Possibly Good” or “Possibly Bad” boxes. Don’t think too hard. Most of your ideas will go into Possibly Good. But some will go into Possibly Bad.



Now it’s time to start moving things around.

  1. Type your title ideas into Amazon. Does one of your brilliant, witty titles already exist, or something too similar? If so, boot that idea out of the “Possibly Good” box. No reason to start with strikes against you. This happened to me recently with my “Possibly Good” idea of Jellyfish Loves Peanut Butter. Turned out there are several Peanut Butter and Jellyfish books out there already.



  1. Take a look at your “Possibly Bad” ideas. Some of them will go straight into “Probably Bad.”


Other “Possibly Bad” ideas might go into “Probably Bad” and then get resuscitated later, with a little twist.


  1. When you read through your “Possibly Good” ideas, there will probably be a few ideas that make you smile just to think about. Make your brain buzz like you drank a cup of coffee. Make you itch to go start writing right this second. Those ideas are the ones you want to move on over to the “Probably Good” box right away.



Once you identify some “Probably Good” ideas to start working on, keep your PostPiBo diagram handy. When you get stuck, pick out a “Probably Bad” idea and…just for fun…write a few lines of that story. Afterward, your brain may be a little bit more ready to focus. Or maybe you’ll discover a way to twist the bunny-stabbing unicorn into a “Possibly Good” idea….after all, it’s never been done.


Laura Gehl is the author of One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, which released in September. She is also the author of four upcoming picture books: And Then Another Sheep Turned Up; Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel; Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching; and Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating. Laura is also the author of 57,982 Possibly Good Ideas, and 26, 444 Probably Bad Ideas. She lives with her husband and four children in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Visit Laura online at and