PiBoIdMo: The Nonfiction Perspective

My PiBoIdMo Notebook

It’s PiBoIdMo! In layman’s terms, that’s Picture Book Idea Month, brought to you by children’s author Tara Lazar. The challenge involves coming up with one picture book idea each day for the month of November. It’s a fun way to get your creative juices flowing and hopefully come up with a few executable (is that a word?) picture book ideas.

I have a special notebook I’m using. My friend Sheyla bought this for me when I decided last year to write for children. Each day’s idea gets its own page, so I can do a bit of research and flesh out the ideas when I have time. I already have one I’m pretty excited about. Perhaps I’ll make it my 12 x 12 manuscript for the month.

Honestly, I am hardly ever short on ideas. It’s often a case of too many ideas and too little time. I have to sift through my ideas and see which ones I can execute and which ones have a wide enough audience.

Even though I write nonfiction, I bet many of my ideas come from the same places as those of fiction writers. Here are some places I’ve found ideas:

  • Books (mostly nonfiction). My very first children’s book idea came from a footnote in PACKING FOR MARS.
  • Articles: newspapers, magazines, online. The truth is often stranger than fiction. A capybara loose in a waste water treatment plant once inspired a piece.
  • My kids. Sometimes it’s things the things they say. Sometimes it’s the way I have to explain things to them when they ask, “Why?” or “How?” Children are an endless source of inspiration.
  • Fiction picture books. Today’s idea came when my six-year-old cuddled in my lap. (He is so big!) It reminded me of the classic picture book, LOVE YOU FOREVER, which was a recent topic of discussion among some 12 x 12 writer friends. A few more things fell into place, and voila!
  • Museums and other cultural institutions. I’m a real tourist. When we visit somewhere, I take as many pictures of the exhibit signs as I do of my family. There are always interesting tidbits I can mine for ideas later. Which reminds me, I have a few pictures from this summer that I haven’t looked at…

I’m curious, if you are a fellow writer, where do you get your ideas?

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16 responses to “PiBoIdMo: The Nonfiction Perspective

  1. I have no idea where half my ideas come from! I’ll be reading a good book and all of suddenly an idea pops into my head that has nothing to do with the book I’m reading. Sometimes I hear a name that I like and want to create a story to go with that name. Sometimes, like you, I read an interesting fact and want to create a story around that fact.

    • Isn’t it fun. We have these huge computers for brains that file away so much information. You never know what is going to combine and pop up as the next big idea. I’m really excited about the idea I had this morning though. Manuscript coming!

  2. I’m using the official 2012 PiBoIdMo Notebook. I am doing 1 page per idea like you, and usually putting a possible title, a small doodle, and possible ideas for that. But today, I did a small comic strip for my idea. Good luck!

  3. It sounds so interesting writing non-fic pbs. I hope at least one of my ideas is for a non-fic pb. Lead the way, Kirsten!

  4. I love your notebook method, and it’s fun to hear the non-fiction perspective! I’m like you – get a lot of my ideas from my kids, newspaper headlines, radio ads, just life in general going on around me. And I also find that I usually have too many ideas and have to sort through them for something that will actually work!

    • It’s funny…some ideas I respond to instantly. I can see how they will work, and I know they will be easy to research. Others, I love the topic, but cast about forever looking for the “hook.”

  5. I like the idea of one page per idea, so am stealing this. I Wish I was like you guys and had so many ideas…. mine are scarcer, but tend to be ones I want to work on immediately.

    • I think as long as you have a handful of good ideas, it doesn’t matter how you come to them. I’m just fascinated by everything so then I have to filter, filter, filter.

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