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by Adam Lehrhaupt

This is my idea jar. I keep all my story ideas in it.

You know the ones.

The same ideas we spend all of Storystorm coming up with.

Our brilliant, wonderful, genius ideas.

The ideas we will turn into fantastic manuscripts. Manuscripts that will, some day, become beautiful books.
So yes. This is my idea jar.

When I need a jumpstart, I reach inside and pull out one of my ideas. Then, it’s time to play.

You need to play with your ideas. You know that, right? If you don’t, they get rowdy. When ideas get rowdy…oh, my! The trouble they can cause…

Anyway, now I get to play with my idea. I can do all kinds of things with it:

  • Draw it.
  • Talk it out.
  • Sculpt it.
  • Fancy needle point thing it.
  • I can even write it.

Well, I’d probably write it over any of those other ones, but that doesn’t mean you have to. You can play with your ideas however you want. The important thing is that you USE them.

Every. Single. One.

They might not all turn into that beautiful book, but we can learn from them all:

  • What made this idea work?
  • Why did this one fail?
  • Can I revise it so that it’s better?
  • Is there a different approach that I haven’t considered?

So, take out those ideas. Play with them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you do, learn from them.

Take what you learn and turn it into successes.

And then…

Reach back into that idea jar and do it again.

As a special treat, in honor of my newest book, I’m giving away my #1 thing to help you write picture books that will sell absolutely FREE, along with 35 tips and tricks to help you do it. Just stop over to

Adam Lehrhaupt is an award-winning children’s author and writing coach.

He has written 14 picture books, including his newest, IDEA JAR (S&S, available TODAY) illustrated by Deb Pilutti.

by Adam Lehrhaupt & Ame Dyckman


Remember snarfing Cookie Crisp with your favorite stuffie and watching this guy—um, THESE guys on Sesame Street?


Yeah, our Moms wouldn’t let us have Cookie Crisp either—STILL bummed! But back to our point! These guys—

ADAM: “We have a point?”
AME: “’Course we have a point, Fuzzy! Now, pipe down! We’re in Narrative Mode!”

THESE GUYS were able to tackle ANY challenge!

Driving a car!

Spelling “CHEESE.”

Even PiBoIdMo.

ADAM: “The 2-Headed Monster did PiBoIdMo?”
ADAM: “What pseudonym?”
AME: *whispers*

So now, on PiBoIdMo Day 19, when your lone little head’s probably feeling pretty crunchy—

AME (wistfully): “Like Cookie Crisp!”
ADAM: “AME! Who’s interrupting now?”
AME: “Um, wasn’t me! That was a typo.”

SO NOW, ON DAY 19, how do you make like our co-cranium Henson hero?

You just need an extra head!

Luckily, heads are everywhere! That friend you made at the SCBWI event has a head. Your kidlit pal on social media?

ADAM: “They MIGHT have a head.”
AME: “Yeah. Avatars can be confusing like that.”

And if your writer buddy’s a fellow PiBoIdMo-er, it’s quite likely their lone little head could use a bit of help by now, too.
So why not put your heads TOGETHER? Approach—

ADAM: “I’ll get the pointy scissors and the sewing kit!”
AME: “IDIOM! And you’re not allowed to use the pointy scissors! And you still owe my cat an apology.”
ADAM: “Who you callin’ an idiom?!”

APPROACH your prospective extra head carefully. We suggest this unique technique:

Ask them.

AME: “Just… ‘Wanna be my extra head?’”
ADAM: “Worked on you.”
AME: “So THAT’s how we happened! Always thought it was voodoo…”
ADAM (hides pins): “Don’t be silly.”

Once you’ve obtained your extra head—

ADAM: “Play Pok-A-Tok! Like the Mayans!”
AME: “Pok-A-Wha?”
ADAM: “Ancient Mesoamerican ball game. Occasionally played with heads.”
AME: “Surrender the keyboard. NOW!”

DO NOT remove your extra head from the body where it lives.

DO NOT bounce your extra head through a small stone hoop as ceremonial sport.


DO use BOTH your heads to come up with new picture book ideas. How does a 2-Headed Monster do this? You can:

  • hang out.
  • call or Skype to chat.
  • text. (We do this every 17 minutes.)
  • use Google Docs. (This, too.)
  • e-mail.
  • practice your awesome psychic ability.

AME: “OW! Turn your psychic ability down! You’re LOUD!”
ADAM: “Sorry! I was excited. This is the good stuff.”

And what do you DO during these social interactions? Besides share festive beverages? You can:

  • brainstorm ideas together. (They ARE your Brainstorm Buddy.)
  • bounce those ideas off each other. (Gently.)
  • laugh at the funny stuff.
  • amp up the not-funny-yet stuff.
  • layer ideas to strengthen them.
  • share festive beverages.

ADAM: “We already said that.”
AME: “So nice, we said it twice. Like Duran Duran!”

Then, you simply write the idea into a story, edit a thousand times, get agent approval, survive Acquisitions and Contracts, edit another thousand times, get published, and promote like HECK! EASY PEASY!

And if you’re lucky, like we are, your extra head is right there for all of it, shouting in your ear (and to the masses): “Hey, YOU! Check out how RAD my extra head’s story is! And… STUFF!”

AME: “You’re THE BEST, Fuzzy!”
ADAM: “I know. Look! I even got you a present.”
ADAM: “Uh, the cereal. NOT the fingers, please.”
AME: “Sorry. The SUGAR! It’s WORKING!”
ADAM: “QUICK! To the Writing Cave!”
AME: “And then, maybe a game of Pok-A-Tok. For you.”

BYE, EVERYBODY! HAPPY WRITING! And please let us know how your extra head search goes in the Comments below!

Adam Lehrhaupt (TOTALLY the right head!) is the award-winning author of WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK! and PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK! His next book, CHICKEN IN SPACE (illustrated by Shahar Kober; HarperCollins), blasts off May 17, 2016. Follow Adam: @Lehrhaupt.


Ame Dyckman (TOTALLY the left head!) is the award-winning author of BOY + BOT, TEA PARTY RULES, and WOLFIE THE BUNNY. Her next book, HORRIBLE BEAR! (illustrated by Zachariah OHora; Little, Brown), wakes from hibernation April 5, 2016. Follow Ame: @AmeDyckman.

PrizeDetails (2)

PRIZES! Adam and Ame are donating a signed copy of PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK!, a signed copy of WOLFIE THE BUNNY… AND a picture book manuscript co-critique! Lunch and festive beverages—if you’re so inclined—included if you live near ’em! (They said they’ll even TRY not to squabble and throw lunch—THIS time.)

Leave a comment below to enter. One comment per person, please.

These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

adamlehrhauptby Adam Lehrhaupt

Recently, I had a bout of writer’s block. It didn’t last horribly long, but as any writer who has been through it will tell you, any amount of time spent struggling to write can be extremely frustrating. Yeah, yeah. I know. What does this have to do with inspiration? I’m glad you asked. Or, more to the point, I’m glad I pretended that you asked. I thought I would talk a little about the lack of inspiration.

Why? Because I like to do things differently, but also because it is something that we all deal with at some point in our writing career. Every writer has a day when they sit down at their desk and stare at the blank page, the computer screen, the tablet and think, “Oh, god! What am I going to write?” Well, I’ll tell you. Anything.


There can be a lot of reasons that inspiration goes missing for a while. It is important in times like these not to lose sight of the smaller goal as we strive for the larger. In this case, we aren’t trying to complete the project. We are looking for inspiration, so that we can get writing again.

How do we do this? We get back to the basics. An artist may spend 5-10 minutes drawing quick sketches to get their creative juices going. We, as writers, can do the same. They don’t have to be good, or interesting. We don’t need to keep them around, or show them to anyone. We need to write them.


So, to that end, here are my 10 ideas for jump-starting your brain.

  1. Describe a photo. What happened just before it? Just after?
  2. Draw a picture. It doesn’t matter if you are an artist or not. Draw something you see. Remember we don’t need to show this to anyone.
  3. Describe yourself without using the pronoun I.
  4. Write down 10 questions about your project.
  5. Describe your writing area using only adjectives.
  6. Look up the lyrics to a favorite song. Try to write the story it tells.
  7. Describe what you ate for your last meal.
  8. Take a favorite story and change the ending. Happily ever after? Not any more. (Insert maniacal laugh here)
  9. Create a list of your favorite heroes from film, TV, or literature and describe them. If you’re not into the hero thing, make a list of villains.
  10. Change your perspective. If you write at home, go to a coffee shop or library. If you write inside, go outside. If you write via computer, try writing on a notepad, or vice-versa. Try writing while in a closet or under a bed. Remember: you never know when inspiration will strike.

Most importantly, keep writing. Don’t worry about what comes out. Ten minutes of writing today could lead to that brilliant story tomorrow. Happy writing!


warningAdam has traveled to six continents, performed on Broadway, and lived on a communal farm. He firmly believes that opening a book is a good thing, even if there are monkeys in it. Adam currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with his wife and two sons. In his spare time, Adam does a bit of writing. His writing spans multiple styles, from poetry to fiction to nonfiction, and is primarily geared towards children. Adam’s first book, Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, is available now anywhere books are sold. View the book trailer here.

Visit him online at, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @Lehrhaupt.

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