It’s almost November, and that means it is time once again for picture book author Tara Lazar’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  That’s right – it’s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo).  The rules are simple.  Come up with one idea for a picture book every day for 30 days.  (The adorable firefly mascot, courtesy of Bonnie Adamson, is complimentary)

Participants are also asked to repeat this pledge 10 times:

I do solemnly swear
that I will faithfully execute
the PiBoIdMo 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge,
and will, to the best of my ability,
parlay my ideas into
picture book manuscripts
throughout the year.

So, I participated in PiBoIdMo last year, and when I saw the announcement for this year, I went back into my file of ideas from 2010.  Here is the sad fact: I only turned one of those ideas into a bona fide picture book draft.  Now, I am not saying I failed.  I had a goal to have three completed, submission-ready picture books by the end of this year, and I will meet that goal.  However, in looking at all of those shiny ideas, I realize I need to do better by them going forward.

So I’m taking the second part of Tara’s pledge — “[I] will, to the best of my ability, parlay my ideas into picture book manuscripts throughout the year” — to heart in 2012.  How, you ask??

I am creating new challenge for myself, and I invite all PiBoIdMo participants to consider taking it with me.  I am calling it 12 x 12 in 2012.  I will take one idea each month from my stockpile of what will soon be 59 ideas (the 29 left over from PiBo last year plus 30 from this year) and write a picture book draft from that idea.  At the end of 2012, I will have a minimum of 12 fully drafted PBs.  12 picture books in 12 months.  Not necessarily submission-ready PBs mind you, but, at a minimum, completed first drafts.  Those of us who also participate in National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) in May have the potential of completing 18 picture book drafts by the end of 2012.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be announcing particulars and sign-up in December so we’ll be ready to roll in January, 2012.

Anyone interested?  Or are you all suffering from “writing-challenge fatigue?”

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,



  1. I love PiBoIdMo. I did it last year and am signed up again this year. Last year I finished with 46 ideas of which I tuned one – 1! – into a finished ms. Looking through them just now so i could say how many there were, I saw quite a few good ideas that I think I could work with. Somehow, time got away from me this year, what with graduations and college searches and a new granddaughter etc… (And I did write a few others that weren’t on that list!) So I am all for your 12×12 idea!

    • Susanna,

      I will be so glad to have your company!

      You had some very legitimate and wonderful diversions from your writing this year, as did I (summer in Italy anyone?)

      I just want to make sure that execution follows the inspiration. 😉

  2. Yeah, that is a great add-on challenge!!! Oh, I will be sending folks your way!

    • Thanks Tara! I think it will work quite well with both PiBoIdMo and NaPiBoWriWee. I absolutely can’t wait for PiBo, by the way!! 🙂

  3. I’m totally with you, J! Great goal!!

  4. Poke me when the details are set. What a great way to keep the momentum going.

    • Most definitely will! I’m very excited. It hit me like a brick that this was what I needed to do to keep myself making progress on all of those great ideas.

  5. louise nottingham

    i like the idea of the 12×12 challenge!

  6. Julie, What a great idea! I’m in! One more thing to keep us focused sounds good to me. Thank you!
    Kim P

  7. Agreed! 12×12 sounds wonderfully daunting! Can’t wait:)

  8. I’m in for 12×12. It’s also interesting to hear what you and Susanna did with your ideas. I find it difficult sometimes to think a story is ready for crit group or for a contest or whatever, especially when I read stories about published writers taking years to finish a book. I look forward to PiBoIdMo and following through with the stories.

    • My rule of thumb is after I write a first draft, I revise it at least 2 times. Once I get to the point where I have specific questions or need feedback to move forward, I send it on to a critique group. I might revise and send it back for a couple more rounds of CG depending on how much work it needs. After that, I get professional (multi-published author, editor or agent) feedback. I’ve done this in various ways – classes, paid critiques, conferences, and just plain-old relationship building.

      At some point, it’s considered “done” and “submission-ready.” If I get more than a few rejections, I look at it again to see if anything else needs changing before sending more queries.

      Because I am now getting “positive rejections” on the two I’m subbing, I’ve stopped making changes and assuming that someday they’ll find the right home at the right time.

  9. Excellent challenge. Enjoy PiBoIdMo! 😀

  10. I’d love to join you! I’m usually happy with one draft every two months, but I’m up for the challenge of doubling my output. Count me in!

    • I’d be happy with one draft every two months too – lol! But I really want to push myself this year and see how it goes. Great to have you along!

  11. I am so in for the 12×12 commitment, Julie. This is my first time but I have just joined an online critique group that encourage a one PB per month submission, so this is added incentive!

    • Yay Joanna! My critique group is part of my motivation too. I missed quite a few months this year because I had nothing to submit. My goal is to have something every month next year.

  12. Definitely wanting to participate in this challenge! Yay!

  13. I’ll be rooting for you all the way. 🙂

  14. Great idea, Julie. Count me in.

  15. Super idea! Nothing motivates like a nice deadline :0)

  16. Wonderful! I didn’t know about this. I think I may just be brave enough to dive in. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know about this.

  17. Great idea (12 x 12). I’m in.

    : )

  18. Oh my goodness, I think that sounds more difficult that NaNo! (Which I’ll be… errr…. attempting again this year.) Looking forward to following your November writing journey… I love the energy of November’s online writing community!

  19. That’s a wonderful idea Julie, I’m so in! But also, maybe we should set another challenge for December where we clear out all the good ideas we still haven’t looked out from last year 🙂

  20. I really like this challenge you are planning, so I am interested! Will let my crit buddies know, too. Thanks and good luck with PiBOIDMO!

  21. The 12 x 12 Challenge sounds like a lot of fun! Count me in!!

  22. Wow. What a challenge. I’d like to participate, but since I also have several other writing irons in the fire — middle grade novels and adult novels, I don’t think I can commit to 12 x 12. I will be following your progress with great interest, though.

    Good luck to all who are taking on that awesome challenge!

  23. Fantastic! The excitement keeps building as the goals stack up!

  24. I’m all for that “seeing things through” thing! I’m using PiBo to jumpstart my PB side (I write MG and YA, mostly. And poetry. And essays. And…um, you know what? I’m beginning to see why I might have trouble finishing manuscripts- :-))

    The point is, the spirit is willing for the 12 X 12 challenge. I just hope the flesh isn’t too weak to get ‘er done. 😉

  25. I have returned to writing after an absence of over 20 years and discovered a passion for writing children’s stories. When I stumbled across the write a novel in a month challenge, I thought to myself that I would attempt such a test, but upon reflection, realized I am not a strong enough writer yet to do such a thing justice without possibly sacrificing a potentially good manuscript along the way. So I decided to follow the challenge and learn from those who went before me and be better prepared for next year’s challenge. Then I came across the create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days challenge and fireworks started going off!! What a FABULOUS challenge and right up my alley!! I have been working on rewrites of a chapter book I just completed a few months ago, and I think this is just the thing I need to help me gather together all these fresh story ideas that keep bouncing around in my head because I fail to take the time to stop and write them down. I already have my notebook and pen ready…COME ON NOVEMBER!!! ;0)


    • Donna,

      Congratulations on returning to writing, and welcome aboard! We are a friendly and supportive (and dare I say, FUN) group!! 🙂

  26. At the risk of sounding totally ignorant – where can I go to get a description of what a picture book is?

    • That’s the million dollar question. Picture books are much more complex than most people realize, which is why they are one of the hardest things to write. The best info I’ve found is in Anne Whitford Paul’s book: ‘Writing Picture Books.’ However, this may help you as well:

      A picture book will likely have these qualities:

      • The story (if nonfiction) is told in usually no more than 600-700 words, although it can have no text at all or be as long as 1200 words or so.
      • Since it is usually targeted at 6-8 year olds, it’s language will be above their reading level, but still easy for them to understand.
      • It is told partially by the illustrations, which enables the text to be sparse.
      • A quality picture book can be read over and over without driving the adult insane.
      • It is not illustrated fiction, which has more text, but lots of graphics and is for older readers who still like visual impact with their reading.
      • A picture book is not a short story put in a book. Short stories are not able to function as a PB because they don’t have the same rhythm or visual potential as a PB.

      In order to understand what a picture book really is, you should read hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of picture books. Get the best ones and saturate yourself with them until you feel their rhythm. (The book by Anne Whitford Paul has lists and lists of great picture books, if you need a starting place.)

      Hope this helps!

    • It’s an illustrated storybook – classics include Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, etc. I don’t know what the Italian classics are though! 🙂

  27. Julie,

    Please count me in your 12 X 12 group…I absolutely LOVE the idea of keeping the momentum going. The only downside is that my NaNo novel may have to wait but I am discovering I so enjoy creating picture books and it will give me a chance to implement all the great tips I have learned over this past month in PiBo!

  28. You can definitely count me in. I have a goal of having three submission-ready manuscripts next year, and 12×12 will help move me toward that, for sure!

  29. Me too! 12 X 12 sounds wonderful. I signed up for your blog, so I assume I’ll be prompted when you get the ball rolling??

    Many thanks!

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