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Man, you guys are more than half-way there! You’re at mile 19! And though it seems like there’s crazy amounts of marathon metaphors floating around PiBoIdMo, I’m going to add one more.


That point where you’re tempted to say:

  • November 19th – girl finds dog and learns to dance
  • November 20th – girl finds chicken and learns to dance
  • November 21st – girl finds sunglasses and learns to dance
  • [Repeat until November 29th]
  • November 30th – girl finds dog, chicken, sunglasses, hot sauce, tape dispenser, colored pencil, 1990’s car phone, empty cardboard box, car tire, chicken nuggets and wrist watch and learns to dance!


But I’m here to say—don’t cheat yourself.

True, nobody will know if you don’t come up with all thirty. And nobody will know if you’re truly inspired by all thirty thoughts/ideas or if you play fill-in-the-blank from now on.

But you’ll know. And aren’t you the most important part of this process right now?

StSo what if you’re looking at “girl finds 1990’s car phone and learns to dance” and thinking, “well, that’s better than what I got today…”

Then I say, it’s time to explore!

Inspiration doesn’t just come from within. Inspiration comes from the larger world. So when was the last time you:

  • Went to a museum
  • Saw a great (or terrible) play
  • Took a trapeze lesson
  • Learned a new dance
  • Tried a new food
  • Laughed until your cheeks hurt
  • Scared yourself silly
  • Made something with your hands (illustrators: build, knit or otherwise non-illustrate something)
  • Went to the batting cages
  • Watched a documentary
  • Attended a non-book related, public lecture at your local college
  • Shopped a thrift store
  • Did anything that required dressing up (either costume or fancy-pants)
  • Sat around a campfire
  • Ran through a corn maze
  • Rode a rollercoaster
  • Gave an unexpected gift

And now you’re thinking—this woman is ridiculous. How can I have time to take my kids to soccer practice, watch a documentary and come up with a brilliant new picture book idea?

And to that, I hope you all say:


Stay strong, PiBoIdMo-ers. You’re almost there.

Tracy Marchini is a freelance writer and editorial consultant. Before launching her own editorial service, she worked at a literary agency, as a book reviewer and as a newspaper correspondent.

She’s the author of Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary Of Publishing Terms and can be found at and on Twitter as @TracyMarchini.

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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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