by Alli Brydon

Do you pride yourself on being an eco-conscious person? Do you chuckle every time you toss a metal can into the recycling bin? Do you even—GASP!—collect and compost your food waste?

Congratulations! Now take that recycling muscle and apply it to your children’s book writing.

There are so many fun ways you can recycle your own notes, storylines, and even the words spoken by perfect strangers. No, I’m not talking about plagiarizing. I’m talking about…


Many prior Storystorm bloggers have already mentioned this gem of a tip, but it bears repeating: keep your eyes and, more importantly, your ears open wherever you go. Especially if you frequent places teeming with children. Children who say hilarious things! Children who feel all the feels, right in front of you! Children who enact imaginative play.

For example, one Saturday morning I was sipping coffee in my living room while my two sons play-acted something from Minecraft. One of them said, “I have a diamond sword,” which I actually heard as, “I have a dinosaur.” When I realized what he actually said and how my brain twisted his words into something else, I grabbed my notebook and began to write:

Diamond Sword

Spying lord
Lying gourd

Words: recycled! OK, so maybe my notes went a bit off the rails, but this activity started me off on some book ideas and fun…


Word association/word play unlocks your subconscious brain and turns it into a recycling center—where you can toss words around, melt them down, and maybe meld them together to create new things. One of the ways I like to announce that my recycling center is open for business is by opening my journal and doing some free writing. Don’t even pay attention to your ego telling you the words are no good. Let the subconscious junk flow! Metal, plastic, cardboard, paper—throw it all out there and onto the page, single-stream recycling style. Then go back and underline those hidden gems among your junky lines. Or maybe even scour some of your ancient journals for…


Don’t feel shy about dusting off old and once-rejected ideas, half-written manuscripts, or writing snippets that didn’t work the first time. Even if you haven’t participated in Storystorm since it was PiBoIdMo, you’ve probably still got lists upon lists of book ideas. Go back to those, see if any of them jump out at you now, maybe fuse two of them together, or see if they spark new ideas.

Now get out there, Storystormers, and recycle! It’s good for the whole planet.

Alli Brydon is a freelance children’s book editor, writer, and lifelong New Yorker who has recently moved to the UK with her family. She is the editor of the #1 New York Times bestselling picture book Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo and writer of nonfiction books for Scholastic, Lonely Planet, Quarto, and NatGeo Kids. She is always adding to her list of ideas and crafting them into picture book manuscripts. With nearly 15 years of experience developing, editing, writing, and selling books with almost every US publisher, Alli has spent a large part of her career nurturing authors and illustrators to improve their craft and create outstanding children’s books. Please drop in at to learn more, sign up to receive her blog posts by email, or just say “hi!”

Alli is giving away a picture book critique.

Simply leave ONE COMMENT below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!