Storystorm, previously known as PiBoldMo, is not the run-of-the-mill challenge. It's supported by an entire group of writers, both new and old, who are treated to daily blogs from authors, illustrators, and others. Each blog tackles a new subject based on the author's personal experience. Plus there are prizes! There is also a Facebook group where everyone can ask questions or share their experiences. In other words, it is an entire month devoted to the creativity and business of writing. The only requirement is that each participant write at least one idea for a story in their journal. That's it. One idea.
This year, however, I am taking this a step further. I am not just jotting down an idea, a phrase, or a title. I found that does nothing for my memory when I am searching through my journals. I need more. So this time, I am fleshing out the idea. If I don't have a simple plot line, a character, or a one paragraph synopsis, then it does not go into my daily diary. Now I have to admit, this has not been easy. In fact, there have been several nights when my entry didn't make it onto the paper until 11:59 pm. That is somewhat scary for the writer in me because I know we all have times when the brain does not feel creative. This happens to me when I am overly tired or mentally consumed by the project I am working on. So when I know my brain needs CPR, I try one of four things:
- I go through my books. I have a large collection of both historical fiction and non-fiction and children's books. Sometimes, just looking at the covers will spark an idea. Other times, it takes a little more digging. That's when I ask--"What if?" of one or more of my books. What if the hero was really the anti-hero? What if the dog found a new home with the coyotes? What if the sky never had a rainbow?
- I view images on different subjects on the internet. That's how I found the idea to use a dragon to represent hunger for my picture book, Oliver's Hunger Dragon. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a picture can inspire a thousand words too.
- I visit my local library. This trip is not to look at the books. I do that enough already. No, this trip is to listen to the chatter around me, and since I write for kids, I sit in the kids reading section. I've learned that all it takes is one overheard comment or question from a child to his/her mother, and I have my idea for the day.
- I go for a walk. I don't care where you live, every walk is full of inspiration. I happen to live in the country, so I am always inspired by something in nature that I see or hear. For instance, on my morning walk today there were three squirrels sitting in one of my dogs' dishes. I'm not going to tell you the story line I wrote in my journal, because part of StoryStorm is not to share those ideas but give them time to germinate into a book or an article.