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IT is almost here! *SQUEE!*

And since you are reading this post… you probably already know what IT is!

IT just happens to be the most fabulicious, wondermous, funkaperfect challenge this side of Gallifrey!

IT is…

Picture Book Idea Month! (aka PiBoIdMo)

Thirty ideas in thirty days wrapped in unlimited potential!

And did I mention there are prizes, too?

So why, oh why, am I stuffing myself full of gluten and chocolate?

BECAUSE….

Right now, all I have is:

  1. A blank PiBoIdMo notebook.
  2. Two twitching eyes.
  3. And a bewildered expression as I stare at the aforementioned blank notebook with my two twitching eyes.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my action plan for PiBoIdMo. And though some of my thinking has been helpful… much of it has been less than positive. Here’s a preview of my sordid thoughts:

How in the world will I come up with 30 different picture book ideas in 30 days and still manage to maintain any reasonable semblance of sanity? AAAHHHH!

How will I get all my homeschool stuffs done?
And what about my endless mound of dirty clothes?
Then there’s that whole clothing and feeding the munchkins gig.

And I definitely, positively have to diffuse the Dustbunny uprising happening in my living room.

But the question I should be asking is this:

How am I going to get rid of this stinky thinkin’ and get back to creative thinkin’??

Well…

Pooh Bear had his Thinking Spot.
Henry David Thoreau had Walden Pond.
Doctor Who has the TARDIS.

And I…

I have the shower.

That’s right folks. The shower is where I often go for:

  • Refuge,
  • A moment of clarity,
  • And ideas!

It’s the one place no one follows me—especially if I’ve missed a shower the day before. (Don’t judge me. I have three kids… it happens.)

Matter of fact, the shower is where the idea for BEING FRANK was born! (Seriously. It was!)

So instead of staring at an empty page with twitching eyes and a blank expression throughout the month of November, I’m gonna do this:

  1. Jump in the shower.
  2. Ignore the soap scum crawling up the walls.
  3. Add water and suds…scrub.
  4. Pray. Think. Pray. Think.
  5. Then try and wrangle the new ideas as they slide across my brain.
  6. Rinse and repeat—until all the stink is gone (inside and out).
  7. Then, I will hurry to my notebook to jot down the latest idea.
  8. And by the end of the month, I will have 30 ideas.

Some of the ideas might be the definition of brilliant…

and some might make me yell, “Why in the world did I think that would work?”

But I WILL STILL HAVE 30 NEW IDEAS!!

Yeah, baby! I like this plan!

Visiting my “thinking spot” for 30 days in a row will afford me the chance to do more thinkin’… and less stinkin’. I want my thinkin’ to smell more like a mountainside full of flowers and less like fertilizer.

So is your stinky thinkin’ clouding your vision for PiBoIdMo? What’s your plan for getting rid of it? Whatever it is, get busy! You have 30 ideas waiting to bloom and break down those walls!

“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.” ~Tennessee Williams

When Donna isn’t homeschooling or battling the laundry, she’s writing children’s stories, poetry, songs, an mysteries. You might find her fishing the Pee Dee River, hiking in the mountains with her family, or visiting her hometown of Cordova, NC. She lives in Concord, NC, and BEING FRANK is her first picture book. You can find BEING FRANK in B&N, on Amazon, Books-a-million and in most independent bookstores. For more information and reviews, check out Flashlight Press’s website.

by Jodi Moore

It’s okay to write a 2,000+ word picture book.

*braces self for screams of disbelief, coffee cups dropped, any chance of securing another book deal/agent/critique opening vanish, my own editors paling in shock, possible angry mobs at my doorstep and Tara questioning why-oh-why did she ever ask me to guest blog for PiBoIdMo?*

Now, hold up. I didn’t say it would be publishable. I just said it’s OKAY to write one. In fact, sometimes it may be necessary.

As picture book writers, we are challenged to deliver big ideas in as few words as possible.  We are expected to fully develop our story, our characters, our plotline; captivate our audience; fashion a fabulous first sentence and create a satisfying end.

All while leaving room—and extending faith—for the illustrations.

It’s no easy task. So I ask…why would you limit yourself in the beginning with a word count?

Perhaps it may help to look at this in a different way. Let’s say I want to build a perfect sandcastle.  If I only look at a finished product, say, one of my husband’s illustrious creations, and size up the amount of sand comprising the castle itself, I may decide I only need a few large buckets of sand to complete the task.

But that’s not what he starts with. Larry begins with an entire sandy beach. Using a large shovel, he piles on tons of sand. He sifts through bucket after bucket of the grainy particles. He packs it high as a mountain, scraping up more sand than he could possibly need.

That proud hill is his main idea. It’s the structure. The mass from which he will carve out his masterpiece. It’s his 2000+ words.

And then, he sculpts. He edits. He revises until he can see the more subtle nuances of the castle. Sometimes, a wall will cave or a doorway will be in the wrong place. But that’s okay, because he still has plenty of sand left. He can add. He can rebuild. My husband hasn’t limited himself to a few buckets of sand.

Why should you?

From your comments and posts on both this forum and Facebook, I know that you’re all busy creating your own pile of ideas. Embrace them…and write what’s in your heart. Use every word that’s necessary and a few that – you may find out later – are not. Restricting your words too early on may constrict your idea, choking the very life out of it. Let it breathe; let it swell. Let those words FLOW.

There will be plenty of time to revise—and reshape!—later.

Writing picture books can be a DAY at the beach. Shed those limitations and dig in!

Jodi Moore is the author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN (May 2011, Flashlight Press) and the soon-to-be-published GOOD NEWS NELSON (Story Pie Press).  She writes both picture books and young adult novels, hoping to challenge, nourish and inspire her readers by opening up brand new worlds and encouraging unique ways of thinking. You can visit her at www.writerjodimoore.com.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:

BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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