Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Newbie's Guide to Two Helpful Writing Groups

Although I've been writing for years, I recently took the plunge into the world of kid lit.  And wow, did I quickly find out how completely clueless I was and still am.

I knew if I didn't  go all in, I would just flit around the outside of the kid lit community and never go anywhere with my writing.  So I joined two groups, and fell madly in love with this amazing, giving community of writers.

First off I took part in Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo, held annually in November.  Tara wants you to tie on that creative thinking cap and come up with 30 picture book IDEAS.  That's where the acronym comes from - Picture Book Idea Month.


This is a no-pressure group.  Signing the pledge at the end of the month saying yes indeedy you came up with 30 ideas is totally on the honor system.  I loved the shared interest, the great encouragement through the Facebook page and Tara's fabulous posts keeping us motivated with words, wisdom and prizes.

One reason why I enjoyed this group so much is that I actually felt compelled to join in the discussion.  I'm usually a fringe Internet element.  I lurk in the shadow reading other people's posts, comments and Facebook discussions.  But this time I actually commented.  I threw my two cents out into the ring and was gratified to find others responding to me.  It was as if I had joined . . .  a COMMUNITY!

I did come up with 30 ideas.  Some are pretty good and I'm excited to see where they go.  Others, not so much.  But that's ok.  It's the process that counts here.

The second group I joined is Julie Hedlund's 12x12.  The goal for members of this group is to write a picture book manuscript per month.  I figured it would be a good way to  continue the momentum I had with PiBoIdMo.  

So I joined 12x12, and I dove right in at the Little Golden level.  There are three levels of membership with varying accessibility to the forums, help groups and being able to submit to featured agents each month.  I already had several semi-polished picture book manuscripts (at least in my mind, which I've found doesn't actually count) that I wanted to get out to agents, so I felt the gold level was a good fit.

The Little Golden level forces me to write, rewrite and write some more.  And actually on paper, not just in my head.  I'm glad I have all those ideas from PiBoIdMo to turn into manuscripts.

With the Gold 12x12 level you can submit the first 250 words of your manuscript for peer review.  This for me was worth the price alone.  To read the incredibly helpful, yet kind thoughts about my stories has been unimaginably  instructive. 

At first with 12x12 I found myself on the Forums each day and wearing myself out with comments, questions, watching videos, reading other manuscripts.  Then the light went on.  This isn't just a month-long exercise.  I have the entire year to access yet another fabulous community with lots of the same people from PiBoIdMo.  I've learned to pace myself a tad better.

So for a newbie to the kid lit arena, these sites have really fired up my desire to create picture books.  It's been slightly demoralizing to realize how naive I was and how very, very much I need to learn.  But I couldn't ask for a more caring, compassionate group to learn from.


  1. Yes, these are two great places to get started as a writer. Thanks for sharing your ti[ps with us!

  2. Both groups have taught me so much!

  3. Nicely done. Thanks for being vulnerable; it will help others jump into the wonderful world of kid lit.

  4. Great post -- and may I say you're not alone. When we're just starting out, and begin to see all there is to learn, it's a bit daunting. But you've gone to two fabulous places to get your bearings. PiBoIdMo and 12x12 are top notch, in my estimation. All the best to you!

    1. Thanks Beth, I think I'll always have a lot to learn!

  5. Good for you, Leslie! I'm also in both groups and have learned so much.

    1. Nowhere to go but up tinamcho! Looking forward to seeing you in the 12x12 forum!

  6. Leslie: PiBoIdMo and 12 X 12 are outstanding resources for writers. For the first time, I participated in PiBoIdMo 2013, and just like you, found the writing challenge informative and supportive. There is just so much for me to learn as I continue to grow and add tools to my *Writer's Tool Box."