Yesterday was all about NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Today’s topic is about the lovely Tara Lazar’s awesome PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month, that starts on November 1st!

piboidmoWhat is it?

From Tara’s Website: Why, it’s Picture Book Idea Month!

Tired of watching novelists have all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo, I created PiBoIdMo as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers.

The challenge is to create 30 picture book concepts in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.

When is it?

November 1 – 30th, with registration beginning on October 25th! Tara will also have guest posts by picture book writers and illustrators like Floyd Cooper, Tammi Sauer, and Peter Brown sprinkled in throughout the month for added inspiration. And woo-HOO, you can also win prizes such as signed artwork, critiques from the pros and bling! We love bling!

Sounds cool, got any tips for where to get ideas?

Well, picture books are not my forte, although I do have a draft with lots of tiaras and tutus and pink … written just so I can give book talks wearing a tiara, tutu, and pink. But I’ve done my best to gather 30 ways to help spark your creativity and get your brain churning. Enjoy!


1. Eavesdrop! Without being creepy or rude, of course, because that’s, like, not cool.

2. Think about your own childhood. What was your absolute best day? Worst day?

3. Best holiday memory as a kid? Worst holiday memory?

4. Most embarrassing moment? (Me getting caught picking a booger in elementary school tops my list. What?? Like you’ve never picked a booger?)

5. What was the most amazing vacation you’ve ever had? Worst vacation?

6. Talk to an elderly person and ask what their best day, worst day, best holiday, worst holiday, most embarrassing moment, best vacation, or worst vacation as a kid was.

7. Dig out your old school yearbooks and see what sparks. Can’t find them? Use your own kid’s. Or borrow a neighbor’s.

8. Think about the ways your parents embarrassed you. Or your grandparents. Or siblings. Siblings can be great for that.

9. Try mind mapping and see where that big, beautiful brain of yours takes you! Don’t know what mind mapping is? Read this or this.

10. What’s your passion, cooking? Dancing? Fishing? Running? (That’d be me.) Bird Watching? Bee Keeping? Think of something funny, ironic, dangerous, or weird about your passion and see which direction it takes you.

11. Make a list of animals and think of their common behaviors. Now imagine an animal whose behavior is anything but common. Or give it an identity crisis. They’re always fun.

12. Think about the best teacher you’ve ever had. Or the worst. Or meanest. Scariest. No, no, wait, I got it … the worst, meanest, SCARIEST teacher that your PARENTS thought was the best, there you go, now THAT’S topic!

13. Take a trip to a book store or library and wander in the picture book section. Grab ones that catch you eye and write down the reasons why. (For me, it would include anything pink, sparkly, with lots of tiaras and tutus.)

14. Watch some picture book trailers … not to steal ideas, but for inspiration!

15. Doodle! It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw. Just grab some colorful markers, release your inner Kraken, and have some fun!

16. Surf some photo websites like Shutterstock or iStockphoto and see what jumps out at you. Or try entering random words in the search box like carnivals, playgrounds, beaches, pickles, daisies, aprons, hop scotch, monkeys, or what have you.

17. Brainstorm a list of amazing, dynamic, eye-popping first lines. Don’t worry about where the rest of the story will go for now. Just be crazy with this one!

18. Remember your best friend in elementary school. And the kid who everyone picked on. And the popular kid. The mean kid. The scared kid. The mean, popular kid who picked on your best friend but who is actually scared.

19. Think of your favorite book as a child. Why was it your favorite? What elements did it have that made you read it again and again and again?

20. Go to a park with a notepad. Or a mall. Town festival. Bowling alley. Fabric store. Inspiration is everywhere!

21. Think of your favorite recipe. Or something your grandmother used to bake. Or the first dessert your mother let you make all by yourself. I don’t really know why I’m listing this one. Maybe because I’m hungry and I’d like a piece of cake.

22. Meditate. Breathe deep, empty your mind, and see what sparks. Or hey, want to get deep? Okay, then try lying on the floor while blasting your favorite moody, deeply emotional song. (True story: my mom and I used to do this while listening Simon & Garfunkel’s I Am A Rock. Now that’s deep, y’all.)

23. Think of your favorite minor character, one who hasn’t gotten the spotlight he/she deserves. Give them that spotlight and let them shine!

24. Take a fairy tale and twist it until it’s taffy. With whipped cream. And chocolate sprinkles. What, taffy doesn’t have whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles? Well, yeah, duh, that’s because it’s twisted!

25. Write down a list of the corniest, hokiest clichés you can think of. Add to that a touch of twisted fairy tale. Or a monster. Or an animal with an identity crisis. You know I like them.

26. Buy the most ridiculous, truth-stretching gossip magazine you can find. (We call they trashies.) Grab a cup of coffee and give that trashy a good read, seeing if anything sparks.

27. Read the headlines. Then a comic. Combine them. Or if that suggestion holds no appeal, (it really doesn’t for me–I was just getting desperate,) then try some good ole’ writing prompts. I love the Writing Challenge App. Story is a State of Mind has some great ones, too.

28. Dig out your old notepads or folders that hold all the book ideas that you’ve scribbled down over the years. I know you have one. Every writer has one. Who knows what it holds?

29. Go for a walk. Or a hike. Better yet, go for a walk or hike WITHOUT a notepad, because we all know that’s when you get your best ideas! (But secretly hide pen and paper in your back pocket to write it down on.)

30. Take Julia Cameron’s advice and go on an artist date to refuel! A museum. Movie. Open mic night at a café. Poetry reading. Open your mind and soak in those artistic juices that will help you…


Got any more tips on gathering book ideas? Fantastic, share your thoughts in the comments and I’ll add it!

Be sure to also let me know if you’re attempting this awesome challenge so I can cheer you on. Best of luck and don’t forget, registration starts on Sunday, October 25th!


Cross posted on As The Eraser Burns.

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