Well, I made it.  I now have 30 shiny picture book ideas in an electronic folder on my computer.  Soon I’ll go through them, evaluate, and bump some to the top of the list for further development.  Many thanks to Tara Lazar for creating this challenge, and for the 30 inspirational posts on her blog throughout the month of November.  They really helped me think of new ways to develop ideas.  Here are a few other things I learned along the way.

  1. Trust my instincts.  One day in the shower I started mulling over ideas for biographies.  For a picture book, a biography must be of someone younger kids can relate to in some way.  The first to pop in my mind was Dr. Seuss.  Then I thought, “Don’t be ridiculous.  Kids love the books, but it’s doubtful that you could fit his biography into an interesting picture book format.  The very next day I found this book — The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew up to Become Dr. Seuss — on display at Borders.   Face-out display even (as opposed to spine out).  Which leads me to my next lesson:
  2. Stamp out censorship.  I’m my own worst enemy in that before I even write down an idea, I try to evaluate whether it is interesting enough, big enough, marketable enough, etc.  That kind of thinking has no place in the brainstorming phase.  ANY idea can turn into something original and special.  At first I stopped myself when I thought an idea wasn’t enough for a whole story.  Maybe not, but that same idea might turn out to be a critical part of another.  Let them all come and write them all down.  Otherwise you’ll probably discover a book written from that idea on a bookstore shelf someday – only written by someone else!
  3. Be alert.  I paid extra attention to my kids and the world in general this month, as I was constantly on the lookout for material that might make a good picture book.  I want to keep that high state of attention going forward, because you just never know where your next big idea is going to come from.

Other PiBoIdMo participants: Any other lessons you want to share?

Categories: PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Writing · Tags: , ,



  1. I’m an adult “kid” and would read an autobiography of Dr. Seuss in a heartbeat! 🙂

    So exciting that you have 30 shiny new ideas to play around with as you move forward.

  2. This is such a great post, Julie. I was going to write something to this effect today on my blog, but you said it much better than I could have!

  3. Great wrap-up! I learned that even when I brainstorm, I have no conflict in my stories. Must work on that. Maybe just brainstorm conflicts?!

  4. Great ideas – especially the point about avoiding self-censorship. The value of brainstorming is to free the imagination. We all tend to second guess ourselves but that just limits the creative process.

    I’m retweeting this post.

  5. Great wrap-up of PiBoldMo Julie. I wish you lots of inspiration for your first drafts.

  6. Lovely post thanks Julie and absolutely true in terms of lessons learned – those and remembering to have pen and notebook with you at all times!!!!

  7. Great tips, Julie. And a valuable lesson learnt. I think that’s why I got my 44 ideas. I wrote them all down – and some sparked others, so I wrote them too. The original ideas aren’t so good – but in writing them I pondered and therefore went further…

    Have fun with your writing!


  8. Hmmmm… re-reading my comment above and it sounds like lots of my PiBoIdMo ideas have merit. I wouldn’t want to give that incorrect impression. I was just showing how the ‘stamp out censorship’ worked for me. Many of my ideas are uncensored and unexciting.

  9. Nancy – I know, I would too! And obviously, so would other people

    Corey – aww, thanks! I liked your addition to the list that you posted too.

    Megan – maybe if you called them “problems” instead of conflicts, they would seem less derogatory to you? I agree that just brainstorming those would probably be helpful.

    Catherine – thanks and same to you!

    Kathleen – pen and notebook or iPhone – lol!

    Kat – I totally understood what you meant. We need to get ALL of the ideas out so the good ones can rise to the surface.

    Thanks everyone!

  10. Well done you! I like your censorship point too. At the beginning I didn’t want to sully the page with dud ideas but by the end of the month I was desperately scratching everything down, and I’m sure it will pay off in the end!

  11. I really enjoyed reading what you learned. All very pertinent points that I need to keep in mind all the time. And you’ve inspired me to sit down (in my thinking chair) and think about what I learned about me and my process this month. So useful to take stock.
    Thanks, Julie.

  12. Oh, congratulations for you making it through! I think it’s a wonderful idea but I could imagine that the well sometimes runs dry of ideas. Forcing yourself to really let go and think outside of your normal comfort zones is hard!

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software