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by Ebony Lynn Mudd

We’re in the home stretch, Storystorm friends!! Look at us, go!!

Maybe you’ve been here getting inspiration all month. Maybe you’ve popped in and out, or maybe this is the first post you’ve seen since this challenge began. Wherever you fall on the Storystorm participation spectrum, I’m so glad you are here investing in YOU. You deserve it. Your work is worth it. Now, let’s figure out some new book ideas!

Anybody else get their best book ideas when you’re one deep breathe away from dozing off to sleep? Or in the shower when there is no paper or pen around? SAME.

But do you know what other “lazy” task has brought me some FIRE book ideas?

Mindlessly scrolling through my phone. Yep. You heard me right…

Keep. Scrolling.

I mean, listen, if we’re going to scroll on our phones all day anyway, why not scroll for stories? If we’re going to struggle to fight our social media addictions, then why not lean in and make it work for us?

According to techspot.com, the average adult checks their phone 96 times per day. That’s WILD. But if this is you, (*Raises hand* because it is me) then let’s get you some book ideas out of it. With those stats, if you could find ONE book idea for every 20 times you checked your phone, you could have 4-5 book ideas per day. Can’t be mad about that!

As a former professional dancer and founder of a tuition-free dance company, I used to scroll through lots of dance accounts on Instagram for inspiration (and so I could dance along with them from my side of the screen)!

One day, I scrolled my way to this…

The @blackboysdancetoo Instagram account slashes gender norms through art, beauty, and inspirational post after inspirational post.

So, I scrolled. And then, I wrote this…

I always knew that I would write a dance book, but when I saw that account, the idea for JUNIOR TAKES A LEAP was set in stone! I was always an advocate for boys who dance through my own dance company, but scrolling through that account sparked something in me that allowed me to take it to the page.

“So, Ebony, you just want me to doomscroll all day?”

No, friend. But during the moments when you ARE on your phone, I want to help you intentionally scroll all day (haha)!

So let’s do it. Here are some of my go-to accounts when I’m scrolling for stories:

 

What is it: The world’s happiest and healthiest daily news—when you need it the most.

Why I love it: Aside from being the serotonin boost you need each day, this account is great for inspiring non-fiction ideas and unique biography ideas. But fiction ideas can be born from here as well!

Who knew that Chicken Tikka Masala was a pretty new dish? If this is a food you grew up eating with your family, and you feel like this is your story to tell, how AMAZING to get this inspiration as you are scrolling through social media! First of all, I will immediately buy any picture book about food. Full stop. But, this… I want to know about the history. The how. The why. The who. I want to know it all. So many ideas could be born from this.

Bios that get into the nooks and crannies of someone’s life in a way that you wouldn’t expect? Sign me up! That’s how I felt when I saw this Usain Bolt post. You’d expect a story about Usain Bolt to be about a few things: his speed, his track journey, or his culture. But his acts of kindness throughout the journey? I love this angle.

And then this last one…ummm I’m not sure if I want to curl up in a ball and cry, read a picture book about it, or both. Either way, a 100-year-old who volunteers to read at elementary schools is a picture book screaming to happen. GIVE ME THIS 32-PAGER RIGHT NOW!!! Immediate preorder from me!

I found those three great posts while scrolling…they would be great to write about as is, but also, what fictional ideas can you think of that could come from them?

 

What is it: Content about sustainable living and good news you may not have heard about.

Why I love it: Sam lists all of his sources on his good news videos. And every single video features a topic I’ve never heard about that I want kids everywhere to know about! There are so many nonfiction and fiction ideas that could come from his videos if you dig deep!

Did you know goats are helping prevent wildfires in California? You can’t make this stuff up. But you can write about it! Goats are taking the place of traditional mowers by fitting in areas that are hard to reach and by clearing out long grass and weeds. I LOVE THIS AS IS. But also if you fictionalized this: a goat that saves lives/the world/the environment by eating? I’m jealous, because stuffing my face has never saved anyone’s life! And also, I would read that!

Other inspiring ideas from scrolling through @sambentley’s videos include:

  • Robot dolphins that were invented to help end animal captivity by providing a cruelty-free way for people to interact with marine life.
  • Kenyan farmers who dug tens of thousands of these holes called bunds to save their land from drought. Any Kenyans in the house ready to write this one?!
  • And don’t even get me started about this underwater forest! I’ll leave it at that.

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite account to scroll for stories is…

 

What is it: NYC teacher Alyssa Cowit,was so fascinated by the questions and comments from her students that she started to chronicle them online.

Why I love it: Because kids….

 

I mean….do we even need to discuss this one or should you just start writing this story right this second?! THE NICEST MEAN TEACHER. What a title! And it could be so many things!

I laughed for an hour about this! SLOW KARATE! I want to know everything about the type of kid who would say this and all the things they think might be EASY because it’s just [write the book and fill in the blank here].

Sometimes these posts can inspire characters and then ideas flow from there.

And these…I’m just going to leave these here…

But the last and sweetest one goes to…

This would warm even the coldest of hearts!! I want to marry Grandma! Write that book. What does that spark in you about your own grandma or grandparent figure?

So there you have it. And look, I know most people tell you to get off of social media and to get off of your screens, and you definitely should sometimes. But since we are here now…why not go scroll for stories!

If you find a story idea from scrolling after this, tweet me at @ebonylynnmudd and let me know!

And remember,

Your art is the prize.

 


Ebony Lynn Mudd writes picture books and novels for underrepresented kids who don’t see themselves portrayed positively in the media. Her upcoming picture book, JUNIOR TAKES A LEAP, will be illustrated by Pure Belpré and Coretta Scott King Honor artist C.G. Esperanza and published by Scholastic. She is also the co-founder of the PB Rising Stars Mentorship program and the creator of picture book writing courses through The Voice Roadmap. Ebony is represented by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Ebony is giving away a scholarship to her upcoming course: How to Find the Right Picture Book Structure to Save Your Story! It starts March 23!

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

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