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by Samantha Berger

Storystormers, StorystormTroopers, Team Tara—
whatever you choose to call yourself—guess what?
It’s the end of the month and YOU DID IT.
Standing O, big bravo, red roses throw!
Take a bow, because it is January 31st, and YOU ARE HERE.
Insert applause here __________________!
And here____________!

By now, you’ve read a post a day and seen all kinds of ways folks find inspiration. And I’ve read ‘em too – ain’t it $!#?* cool? Inspiration is everywhere. Those posts were filled with all kinds of helpful hints and tricks to try. It was, well, INSPIRING!

And NOW…

(drumroll, please)

it’s *your* turn!

Because wherever you are in your writing journey, your ideas and your process, and the way YOU get inspired, are truly important.

And today, I’d like to shine the light on THAT.

So—I’d like to invite you to play a game I play with my friend Desmond.

We’ve been playing it since he was about five years old, and we STILL play it today, ten years later (even though NOW he’s a teenager with a black belt in Karate and a doctorate in sarcasm).

It helps both of us set our brains to STORM mode, and express ourselves without overthinking.

It’s a game called 21 Questions (so it doesn’t get confused with 20 Questions).

Here’s how you play:

I ask 21 open-ended questions and you say the *very first thing* that comes into your head.

  • There are no stakes.
  • There are no mistakes.
  • There are no right answers.
  • There are no wrong answers.
  • You can change your mind.
  • You can play again tomorrow.
  • You can have totally different answers.

This is just an exercise to let your brain storm, your ideas flow, and see who you are at this particular moment in time (*an awesome writer with great ideas. Shablam!)

Ready? Let’s go.

  1. If they made an action figure of you, what would it be wearing?
  2. What is the BEST Halloween candy?
  3. If you made a time capsule today, what’s one thing you would put inside?
  4. If you could meet anyone, real or fictitious, who would you pick?
  5. If you could get paid to do ANYTHING AT ALL what thing would you pick?
  6. What is your earliest memory?
  7. If you could throw any kind of theme party, which one would you pick?
  8. If you could switch places with another person for one day, who would you pick?
  9. When is it important to tell someone the truth, even if it hurts their feelings?
  10. What was one of your most memorable dreams?
  11. What’s your superhero name?
  12. If you got paid to study anything for four years, what would you most want to learn?
  13. What would you NEVER do on a dare?
  14. If you found a genie in a bottle and got one wish (which couldn’t be for more wishes) what would you wish?
  15. If you woke up and had a friendly pet monster, what would you name them?
  16. If you woke up tomorrow and could be an instant EXPERT at something—what thing would you pick
  17. What thing is totally unfair?
  18. If you could invent anything—what would it be?
  19. What’s the grossest thing you ever did?
  20. When is it time to stand up for someone else?
  21. If you wrote a book that was coming out tomorrow, what would you call it?

GOOD JOB!

Play it again and again, and see where it takes you, and what it inspires within!

Storystormkateers, I have only one thing left to say here—a mantra, if you will—

Yay for YOU in 2022! (*my kinda rhyme)

I’ll be rooting and cheering for you, every day of the year.

Samantha Berger is the award-winning author of over 80 books for young readers, including WHAT IF… (illus by Mike Curato), ROCK WHAT YA GOT (illus by Kerascoet), CRANKENSTEIN, A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE, and TRICK OR TREAT, CRANKENSTEIN (illus by Dan Santat).

She is also a three-time Emmy nominated television writer, previous Editorial Director of Nickelodeon for 12 years, and currently writes for many branches of Sesame Street. Samantha lives in sunny Santa Monica with her Dingo-Chihuahua rescue dog Polly Pocket, who is a daily reminder of resilience and the power of love.

Play along online at samanthaberger.com, Twitter @bergerbooks, Instagram @samanthabergerauthor, and Facebook.

Leave a comment with one of your 21 answers, or favorite questions, or basically, anything at all. I will be giving away a signed copy of my book WHAT IF…

…illustrated by Mike Curato, all about the power of creativity to triumph over ANYTHING.

And as always, the deepest of bows (ow, my back) and greatest of gratitudes to the Queen of Kindness, Tara Lazar, for making this happen AGAIN, and for such a stellar charity (Blessings in a Backpack). Mwwwah!

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

by Samantha Berger

Did I just name this post with a whole bunch of poop and potty puns?

Yes. Yes, I did.

And it’s not just because my latest book is called THE GREAT BIG POOP PARTY!

It’s because ideas, inspiration, and freedom need to…you know…move and flow freely!

Just like certain (…ahem…) other things.

So let’s get right into it.

Here are the TOP TEN WAYS I GET MY BRAIN TO LET IT ALL OUT, RELEASE THE IDEAS, and LAY DOWN SOME FRESH IDEAS!

(poop puns, again)

So…get a load of this:

10. Go play.
Build a sandcastle, bust out the Legos, doodle all over a cardboard box. Play with no stakes, no intended audience, and with nothing precious. Just PLAY. You wanna tell stories and connect with kids – go play like one. Pronto!

9. Make a list of words you love: hassenpfeffer, canoodle, gallop!
Jam out a list of words and rediscover your love of language. Cue the heavenly choir and behold…LANGUAGE!

8. Give yourself a short, fun warmup to do every day.
Again, pick one that’s FUN and not a pain in the butt, and hold yourself to it. Make up a new nail polish color name. Give yourself a new pseudonym: Samantha Berger aka Samdemic, aka Bergé, aka Bergermeister MeisterBerger aka The Impossible Berger, etc. Write a daily Postcard from the Pandemic: “Well, this still sucks. xox, me.” Whatever! Nothing stinks more than having to write something you dread. So write something you LOVE and you’ll be inspired to do it.

7. Shift your perspective. I mean literally. Find a way to look at the room like you never have before. This perspecto-shift does something GOOD to your brain.

6. Pick an inanimate object in your home, personify it, and write a paragraph from its point of view.

5. Pretend there is a five-year-old in the room, and tell them a story.

4. Think about one incident that happened when you were a kid, that helped inform who you are today. Write that down.

3. Pick one song you LOVE to sing, and sing it reeeeeally loudly.
This literally opens up your VOICE and opening your voice, gets you open to your VOICE! Duh.

2. Make up a reeeeeally dramatic telenovela about the squirrels and pigeons you see every day.

1. And the number one way to tap ideas and stay inspired is…

Truthbomb: your Inner Editor is a total bummer.

They second-guess every choice you make, always wondering if things could be better, or if you’re choosing the right word, action, character.

They thoroughly impede the whole storytelling flow, leaving you creatively constipated.

Soooo (and I cannot stress this enough) don’t bring them to your Storystorm Party.

Park them in a corner, lock them in a box, send them out for pizza—whatever it takes to keep them away, so you can let your freak flag fly.

You’re going to have your BEST brainstorms, ideajams, and breakthroughs without them. I promise.

They can always come in later with their red pens and harsh judgements, but not now!

I hope this list helps the ideas flow, helps you GO, and brings you LOADS of brand new ideas. I hope it was engrossing, but you know, not enGROSSing.

I want to thank the beyond kind Tara Lazar, as always, for having me guestblurt, and for doing this entire thing SO generously to help raise funds for Blessings in a Backpack (which helps feed children so profoundly in need). Tara is an angel with a kicktuchas sense of humor—ideal combo. I am also thrilled to give away a signed copy of my latest book THE GREAT BIG POOP PARTY—because if ever there was a time to (ahem) let it out and (ahem) release your inner genius and (ahem) stay regular(ly) writing—it is NOW!

May you have buttloads of brilliant ideas.

All my Bergerly best wishes,
Samantha

Samantha is the award-winning author of over 85 books for young readers, including Crankenstein (illustrated by Dan Santat), What If…(illustrated by Mike Curato) and Rock What Ya Got (illustrated by Kerascoët). She is also a 3-time Emmy-nominated television writer, and just wrote The Sesame Street Podcast with Foley & Friends. Samantha lives in sunny Santa Monica with her dog Polly Pocket.

Visit her online at samanthaberger.com, Twitter @Bergerbooks, Instagram @samanthabergerauthor and Facebook Fans of Samantha Berger.

You read it above, Samantha is giving away a copy of THE GREAT BIG POOP PARTY!

Leave one comment below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.

SNOOZEFEST AUTHOR PHOTOby Samantha Berger

You never know WHEN inspiration will hit
So carry a pen, and be READY for it!

The story of Witch Spa I’m sharing with you,
was LIT-ER-ALLY a dream that came true.

One night, around 3, I sat up in bed
and the words “WITCH SPA” flew into my head.

I said them out loud, then laughed, and passed out
and asked the next day, “what was THAT all about?”

I started to answer myself in real time,
and somehow the words, they came out IN RHYME!

That’s never really happened before,
But when story comes knockin’, you answer the door.

“A Witch Spa is clearly a place witches go…
to recoup and regroup from October’s big show…”

And so it flowed forth, and I let it come out,
pushed PAUSE on my own editorial doubt:
(*which is CRITICAL, I’ll come back to this later)

“After all of the Halloween hullabaloo
With the tricking and treating a haunting to do
And plotting and planning and endless late nights
The cooking and cackling and long broomstick flights

a witch needs a break and a little vacation,
a witch needs a place for some REAL relaxation.
A witch must admit, though it may be bourgeois,
She’s booked herself into the faboo WITCH SPA!”

witch_spa_big

(*note, actual editor killed the word bourgeois)

But almost the rest of the first draft still stands,
from a dream in my head, to the book in my hands.

SO–
Everyone writes in their own writer-way
But here are a few things I think I can say:

1. (*my point from earlier)

Check your self-editor at the front door,
and leave yourself free to fully explore!
Your writing will be a BERGILLION times greater
If you blather it out, and edit it later.
To do both at once, leaves you quite agitated,
makes writing and progress both constipated.
(Fecchhh!)
So ramble and blurt, and fly your flag free,
and do not worry about who’s gonna see.

2. Have you ever witnessed a kid hard at play?
Fully engaged in a world far away?
Drawing or building or digging in sand?
Well, working and playing, they go hand in hand!
So get into play mode, and play for yourself
Don’t worry about how your book hits the shelf.
Go blow some bubbles, sing really loud!
Forget all the rules, and what’s not allowed.
Meow at the moon, run around nakiepants!
Put on a wig, do a Stanky Leg dance!
Go back and touch base with your child within
That’s always an inspirational place to begin.

3. If you are filled with picture book ambition

Challenge yourself with a daily tradition:
A warm-up doodle, a chapter, a page —
A little brain-juice for the mind to engage.
Hold yourself to it, don’t ever cop out–
That’s what PiBoIdMo is really about.

Blah blah blah, Sam.
Enough rhyming!
Write on, PiMoIdMo-thers!


Samantha Berger writes and writes and writes (she even wrote *this*). 

She has written picture books like CRANKENSTEIN! illustrated by Dan Santat (Little, Brown, 2013), A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE (Little, Brown December, 2014), WITCH SPA illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Dial, August 2015), and SNOOZEFEST illustrated by Kristyna Litten (Dial, January 2015).

CRANKENSTEIN  CRANKVALENTINE Snoozefest

She also has written picture books like SANTA’S REINDEER GAMES illustrated by John Manders (Cartwheel, 2011), MARTHA DOESN’T SHARE, and MARTHA DOESN’T SAY SORRY illustrated by Bruce Whatley (Little, Brown 2010, 2009), which won a Parent’s Choice Award Honor. 

She has written cartoons and promos for Nickelodeon and other networks. She has written comic books and commercials. 
She has written movie trailers, theme songs, slogans, magazine articles, poems, TV-books, sticker books and professional books.

You name it, Sam writes it. 

And when she ISN’T WRITING…. She’s doing voice-overs, traveling the world, and helping rescue dogs. 

THEN… 
she writes about that, too! 

Samantha splits her time between New York City and sunny California. 

PrizeDetails (2)

Samantha is giving away one of her books! Ooh-la-la!

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

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize 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!

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Coming soon:


TIME FLIES
"7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I" BOOK #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
April 26, 2022

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