PiBoIdMo: Keeping it Fresh

So here we are, a mere 9 days away from PiBoIdMo 2014.

I have my notebook. I have my pen. I have my imagination. That’s all I need to spend 30 days having ideas pour out of me, to be ready on December 1st when I can start magically weaving them into amazing stories.

Right?

Well, um…

Yes, to a certain degree, that’s all I need, and that’s all you need. Honestly, the simplicity of PiBoIdMo is one its best features. (When I think of all the novel writers starting on NaNoWriMo in that same nine days, I want to toss rainbow confetti and four-leaf clovers their way and hand them large amounts of chocolate. Except I may need some of that chocolate myself.) You can do PiBoIdMo simply, easily, and I guess what I’d call the Down and Dirty way. I’ve done it myself, and it works. It works great. Every year, I’ve gotten 30+ ideas in that month, and at least a few of them have turned into possibilities and, some, into actual stories.

This year, though, I’m feeling a need to shake it up a bit. Just recently, when I went back to my lists for a new idea, I came up empty. Oh, the list was there, the ideas were there, but none of them grabbed me. I’ve been thinking about why, and I’ve come up with a few things I want to do differently this year.

  • Spend more time on “looking at” an idea. In past PiBoIdMo years, I’ve tended to rush through the idea-finding, kind of grabbing anything out of the air as it floats past me and tossing it into the notebook. It’s effective, yes, if I’m going for quantity–and I am–but I think I want a bit more this year. I want to bring a bit of mindfulness to each ideas–I want to give them some space to find me and a bit of attention as it drops into my brain. Yes, PiBoIdMo is about going fast, about gathering a big list, then looking for treasures. But I’m thinking I could slow down just a bit below Mach 5 (whatever that means!) and still be good.
  • Go for more than just an idea. I think part of the problem with my lists is that–with so many of the items–I can’t even remember (almost a year later) what I was thinking. Maybe for some of you younger whipper-snappers, this isn’t a problem, but for me…yeah. A gift for you: If you can figure out what I meant by “Salt, no pepper. Pepper, no salt. Ketchup, no mustard,” the idea is yours! I want to add a few details, think about a character, maybe toss in a problem. Just an extra layer or two of idea frosting, if you will.
  • Stay away from concept-book ideas and shoot for story-based ideas. This is not any kind of judgment on concept books; I am in awe of writers who do them well. But I seem to still need a story to keep me interested and to engage me in turning the original idea into a book. During PiBoIdMo, those concept ideas come at me like little sparkling fish–I reach for my net, grab them, and toss them in the tank notebook. And then, a month or three or eleven later, all they do is swim in circles and make goggle-eyes at me. Whereas stories…oops! Sorry! Got distracted staring out the window and thinking about all the places a story can take me.
  • Play with titles. There’s a rhythm in a title, a little bit of music, even–sometimes–that first taste of story. The picture book I’m working on now, which I’m pretty much head over heels in love with, started as a title. Who knows whether the title of that book will stick, or whether any will that I attach to a PiBoIdMo idea, but as a brain-grabber for me, as a lead-in to a character or a plot, they may be a new tool for me.

If this is your first year doing PiBoIdMo, don’t fret it too much. If you have a fun idea for doing a little extra, or if something in my list grabs you, then go for it. But, really, the best way to get started is to dive in, scribble something down, turn a page, and do it again. (Oh, ONE TIP: number our ideas. When you get 2/3 through the month and you start to panic about consider whether you have enough ideas, you do NOT want to have to go back and count them. You want to be able to look at the last page, read the number 25 and know just how close you are to the goal)

If, however, you’ve done PiBoIdMo before, maybe several times, think about adding something new this year. Maybe the title thing, maybe you want to come up with ideas only for concept books. Maybe you’ve got some great ideas of your own. Toss them in the comments to share!

And I’ll see you all over at Tara Lazar’s blog for PiBoIdMo 14! Counting down: 9…8…7

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