Perhaps you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month and pronounced “Nah-No-Ree-Moe.”  Participants sign up to write 50,000 words, or 175 pages, from November 1st – November 30th.  Research and outlining is permitted in advance, but no pre-writing.  The focus of the challenge is on quantity rather than quality.  Just get the 50,000 words out.  No need to edit, polish, or even have any intention for the thing to be any good (first drafts never are).  At the end of the challenge, you just provide proof you’ve written 50,000 words and you’re a “winner.”  The prize is the sense of accomplishment from writing so hard, fast and furiously with 50,000 words of output.

If I finish, I am getting myself one of these mugs (hopefully updated to 2010)

Then last year, children’s book author Paula Yoo* launched the first-ever NaPiBoWriWee, or National Picture Book Writing Week, in the same spirit.  The goal?  Write 7 picture books in 7 days.  I missed it last year because I was still working at my real job.  But this year, with butterflies the size of crows in my stomach, I am going to participate. From May 1st – May 7th, I will write 7 picture books – one a day.

Unlike NaNoWriMo, there is no minimum word count in NaPiBoWriWee.  However, each story must have a distinct beginning, middle and end.  Writing 7 different versions of the same story is also not permitted.  Each book must be a stand-alone.

I know a lot of people think writing children’s books is easy, and I’ve addressed that here on the blog before.  Trust me when I tell you it’s not, so this is a very serious challenge.  I am afraid, and that’s what makes it so exciting.  I’ve already begun jotting down ideas which I hope to flesh out a little bit more before May 1st.  I’d like to have somewhere around 15-20 book ideas so I have plenty to choose from in case I get stuck.  In the meantime, here is my pledge for NaPiBoWriWee:

  1. I will write 7 picture books in 7 days from May 1st – May 7th.
  2. Each book will have a discrete beginning, middle and end.
  3. Each book will be distinct from one another because I will choose 7 very different subjects.
  4. I will accept that these 7 books will all be very stinky first drafts, and I pledge not to obsess about that during the week.
  5. I will do some research and a bit of outlining on my story ideas prior to May 1st, but I pledge not to write a single word of any of the stories until midnight on May 1st (and – who am I kidding – probably not until late morning that day).

Completing this challenge will be excellent training for the SCBWI Big Sur in the Rockies Children’s Writing Workshop, which I am attending mid-May.  I feel certain I will learn a great deal about writing in general and my own writing in particular.  I’ll be able to bring that experience to the workshop.

So, who’s with me?  Let me know so we can follow and support each other during NaPiBoWriWee and beyond!

*Paula Yoo is the author of the children’s non-fiction picture book, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story (illustrated by Dom Lee), published by Lee & Low Books in 2003. It won the Lee & Low 2003 New Voices Award, received starred reviews from BookList and Kirkus Reviews, and was on the 2006 Texas BlueBonnet Masterlist and the IRA 2006 Notable Book list. Her second picture book, Shooting Star: The Anna May Wong Story, about legendary screen star Anna May Wong, was illustrated by Lin Wang and published in July 2009 by Lee & Low Books.

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, NaPiBoWriWee, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , ,



  1. I’m in. I’ve been looking forward to it since November, when I first heard about it.

    • Laura,

      My first partner in crime. Just subscribed to your blog so I can support your progress also. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Glad you’re psyched for the event. When I first heard about the idea last year, I totally hated it, but a few writers contacted me and won me over to the concept. You can read about my reservations at Also be sure to check out the comments, since Paula stopped in to help straighten me out!

    So best wishes for the event. If I had any guts, I’d give it a shot as well.

    • Keith, thanks so much for sharing that post. It raises a lot of interesting questions, and I so appreciate your appreciation of picture books (if that makes sense).

      I thought it was interesting that Daniel Kirk said the shelves of bookstores are full of bad picture books (which is why people think they can write them easily) and yet commented on how hard it is to get published. I wonder – where is the disconnect? Why is it that bad books get published in an age when it is notoriously difficult to break in? I suppose that’s a conversation for another post, but it did get me thinking…

      Anyway, love your blog and just signed up as a follower.

  3. Ummm… I’m in too – though I haven’t registered yet, or anything. Better hop to it! May seemed a long way away – until today! I haven’t even brainstormed any ideas yet!!!! Eeeker yeeekers! Might better get cracking or I’ll be caught slacking!

    Thanks for the prompt! See you somewhere in the words and craziness of NaPiBoWriWee. 🙂

  4. I’m underprepared, but I’ll be giving it my best shot. I’ve added your blog to my RSS feeds, so I’ll be tracking your progress.

  5. Good luck! Sounds like a mammoth challenge, wishing you all success and plenty of great ideas to draw on.

  6. Hi, found you here via your link in the #pblitchat just now! I’m in! Must go and register now …

    • Welcome! Keep in mind it’s kind of a strange registration process. Near as I can tell, what you’re doing is registering to submit comments on the website. Anyone registered on Paula’s site can then participate in the discussions on NaPiBoWriWee (and any other of her posts).

  7. Sounds like a great challenge! Write write write! Plus it will help you get the “bad stories” out and make room for the good ones! 🙂

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