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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!


Hiya, friends and writers! It’s Kidlitbot here. I’m brand-new to your world, recently created by my editor-friend Alli Brydon! As she’s been oiling my joints, polishing my chrome, and booting up my systems, I’ve had a chance to take a peek around your human world a little bit. And boy, is it full of awesome stuff! Dogs, amusement parks, beaches, outer space, school…Twitter. I want to learn about it all! And I’ve heard that you folks love telling stories.

So, Alli and I have decided to bring you #kidlitbot. Here: I’ll let her tell you more about it, since it was kinda her idea.

Since starting my new children’s book editorial business, Alli Brydon Creative, I’ve been thinking about ways I can give back to a community which has given so much to me over the span of my career. So, I dreamed up #kidlitbot with the hopes of bringing more children’s book stories into the world! There are quite a few great picture book writing challenges already out there (like Tara’s own Storystorm), which energize authors to conceptualize book ideas and execute them. But I wanted to offer a new kind of challenge to kidlit writers, one that supplies prompts to help inspire those who might be stuck for ideas.

Introducing…#kidlitbot, your weekly kidlit writing prompt!

At 9am each Monday, we will post to Twitter a little tidbit to inspire you to start a writing exercise which will then hopefully wind up as a story. #kidlitbot is an idea generator for authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators to use as a springboard to write a first draft. If the prompt inspires you, please feel free to “like” it, retweet it, or comment on it using the hashtag. You can even, if you’re comfortable doing so, post a line or two from your work-in-progress. Our hope—mine and Kidlitbot’s—is that our kernels of ideas will encourage and aid you in your writing process.

OK, back to you, Bot!

Thanks, Alli. 😊 (← I just learned about emojis while she was talking to you!) And big thanks to Tara for allowing us to spread the word here on her blog.

The best way to participate is to follow Alli on Twitter @allibrydon and look out for the hashtag #kidlitbot (named after me) every Monday morning! Write me some cool stories, OK guys?

Alli Brydon is an independent editorial professional located in the New York City area. With nearly 15 years of experience developing, editing, and selling children’s books with US publishing houses, she has spent a large part of her career nurturing writers and illustrators to reach their potential. Having worked both as an acquiring editor and as an agent for children’s book author/illustrators, Alli has a unique blend of skills and an insider’s view of the industry which she brings to all projects. Please drop in at to learn more to say “hi!”

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My Picture Books


illus by Mike Boldt
July 2021

illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown

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