Some thoughts on completing the PiBoIdMo challenge

Nevis the black Scottish terrier dog has a dignified and thoughtful appearance

Sexy beast. Nevis would love to pen rabbit murder mysteries. Sadly, a lack of opposable thumbs has stymied this talented storyteller.

This morning I jotted some notes down for my final journal entry in the Picture Book Idea Month challenge. This is the first time I’ve ever completed an internet challenge event. I’m not really one for these public group goal-meeting activities: In fact, I usually avoid them. What made this one more accessible for me was the fact that we didn’t have to publish or upload our work online, thus sidestepping the whole exhibitionistic aspect of so many of these events.

Some things I noticed as I wrote my daily entries:

  • Quite a few entries were based on New Mexico life and culture. This is the first time in the 2 years I’ve lived here that local flavor has influenced my creativity. I guess it means I’ve finally settled in! 🙂
  • A few entries came out of some deep childhood memories, not always pleasant. After I wrote them down, I said, “Whoa, that’s kind of scary. Let me sit with that a while.” Don’t know if or when they’ll get more exploration.
  • At least 2 entries were snippets of conversation from the day before.
  • Characters predominated over plots.
  • Often, I’d jot down a brief idea, opening the door to other, more detailed ideas.
  • Other times, I’d write a quick idea on one day, only to have more details for it the next.

Tomorrow, I’ll go to Tara Lazar’s blog and sign off in confirmation of completing the project.   Thanks to Tara Lazar for her hard work in organizing and hosting this large event and all of the guest bloggers who provided inspirational essays about their experiences as writers and illustrators over the course of the month.

Did you participate in this challenge? What did you notice about your ideas or the writing process?

My PiBoIdMo routine

A diary or journal for keeping writing notes in.

I’m not much of a regular diary keeper. This pretty cloth-bound diary came from Heal’s in London about 8 or 9 years ago, and still has plenty of space in it.

My writing routine this month has been straightforward. As soon as I’ve made my first cup of coffee, I pad into the studio and open up the blue and silver blank notebook shown above, and jot down the title, or character or situation I thought of during the 3-5 am wakeful period I go through each night. The caffeine starts to kick in, and some further ideas or questions occur and I jot those down, too. Questions to research, sources of conflict, maybe even an alternate idea.

Having a nice little book to tuck the daily notes in is really good, as it makes it less likely I’ll be distracted by the online noise that is a constant dull roar when I work on my laptop. 😉

If you’re working on the PiBoIdMo challenge, what writing routine have you set up for yourself?

Groovy Link of the Month: PiBoIdMo and Tara Lazar

2014 PiBoIdMo logo courtesy of Tara Lazar and Vin Vogel.

Picture Book Idea Month is a 30-day writing challenge created by children’s author Tara Lazar. Logo designed by Vin Vogel.

This month is Picture Book Idea Month, or PiBoIdMo, an online writing challenge created by children’s author Tara Lazar, whose blog is called Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). The Twitter hashtag is #PiBoIdMo and Lazar’s Twitter handle is @TaraLazar.

Lazar created the challenge as a response to the NaNoWriMo challenge, in which participants are encouraged to write a 50,000 word rough draft of a novel and upload it online. She felt that the 50,000 word project had little relevance for aspiring children’s authors, so was inspired to create a participatory goal-setting event that could kickstart emerging picture-book writers’ work habits.

The concept is simple: after signing up, participants agree to take some time every day during the month of November and jot down a storyline or concept for a children’s picture book. The challenge is run on the honor system and participants are not obligated to divulge their brilliant ideas online or publicly. At the end of November participants return to Lazar’s site and sign in to certify they completed the 30-day writing goal.

Every day this month, guest authors are posting inspirational essays and/or writing and drawing tips on Lazar’s blog. There will also be prizes distributed at the end of the month. Prizes include fun items like mugs and signed copies of guest bloggers’ published picture books.

Image Credit: Vin Vogel designed the 2014 PiBoIdMo logo/banner for use by Lazar’s blog and challenge participants. Be sure to check out his site, which features lively pen & ink work and flat-color vector illustrations.

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