Monday, November 9, 2009

It All Starts With An Idea

When I first started getting serious about writing, the part that often seemed the trickiest to me was coming up with a great idea. I would focus on each story or poem as though it might be my last because I could never imagine coming up with an idea as good as my current one.

Recently, I've tried to be more proactive about coming up with ideas, and I think I've gotten better. But this month, fellow children's writer and blogger, Tara Lazar, has come up with an awesome challenge for those of us who "write too short" for NaNoWriMo.

The idea of Tara's challenge is to spend the month of November generating picture book ideas. One idea per day to be exact. It's a challenge, but it's do-able. And you can join in at any time. (So don't worry that the month is part gone!)

What's really great about this challenge is that it's causing me to look at the world around me much more actively. Everything is a potential idea. And by the end of the month I'm going to have an amazing list of story possibilities. (Actually, it's already looking pretty inspiring.)

So, to add my part to PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month), here are a few of my favorite ways to "catch a new idea":

*DO SOMETHING NEW-- for me it was studying cello and taking a jazz class. I'm not at all talented as a musician, but the experience of learning something new as an adult seems to stimulate my brain. (And maybe being such a novice helps to give me a bit more of a kid's perspective.)

*LEARN FROM MY CHILD'S PASSIONS-- Okay, I never thought I'd write a book about trucks, but after living with a truck obsessed three-year-old, I've got two truck manuscripts in the works.

*LET FRIENDS AND FAMILY "CATCH" IDEAS FOR ME--There are those times when I say something in a joking way, and my husband or my mother says, "You should write that.". And, on at least two occasions, they were right!

So, those are a few of my favorite techniques. Where do you get your ideas?

P.S. Don't forget to check out Tara's blog for all sorts of amazing posts about how to generate great picture book ideas!


  1. Woo-hoo! I'm glad you're having a good time with PiBoIdMo!

    I like how your family "catches" ideas for you.

    Unfortunately I cannot share my ideas for generating ideas...I might use them all up and I need to post every day all month long! LOL!

  2. Oh, great post! I have a truck-obsessed four year and i have been trying to come up with a truck idea for ages!

  3. All so true!! It's really is amazing how much more you 'see' when you really look. It's fun too.

  4. I can't wait to see all these ideas come to life as full-fledged PBs.

    And I love the whole concept or PiBoldMo. I'm so glad all you PB writers have a chance to fry your brains during November, too!

  5. I love this idea! And think it may be a little bit harder than Nano, lol.

    It's amazing where ideas come from - what a great way to force yourself to keep your eyes and ears open.

    Hope you have a great imaginative month.

  6. I think Robin has hit on one of the most important aspects of idea gathering - keeping your eyes and ears open.

    When we look at the world with the "what if?" frame of mind, ideas pop up all the time. This morning at the grocery store I noticed a lone pear mixed in with piles of tomatoes. What if that pear was a spy gathering info. for a tomato/pear war? Silly? Yes. But fun.

  7. This is great advice. I'm embarrassed to say that I'm a little behind on my "idea a day" pledge . . . yikes!


  8. Thanks to all for the great comments!

    Tara-- Thanks for getting so many of us to do this! (And I totally understand why you can't share your ideas for generating ideas! Looking forward to reading more of your super blog posts!)

    Corey-- That truck obsession is amazing, isn't it? My truck idea just sort of hit me this summer.

    Maureen-- I agree! I am seeing my daily experiences in a completely new way.

    J.A-- Wow! It certainly will be exciting to see how many of these ideas turn into good, complete drafts. And I can't wait to hear if (or should I say when) someone gets published with a book idea that came from PiBoIdMo!

    Robin-- Nano sounds pretty darn challenging to me! Good luck!

    Gale-- Ah yes, "What if" is that key mindset. Love the pear idea! As you know, I'm a huge fan of silly!

    Hardygirl-- Confession time... I have to admit I've fallen a bit behind too, but it's a great challenge because every day we get a fresh start. (And if we come up with 25 or 20 great ideas for the month, it's still an amazing list! :o) )

  9. LOL, Gale. Maybe the pear was on a fruit-finding mission for a hostile orchard takeover.

    p.s. Love the new pic, Brianna.