Monday, January 2, 2017

Start New Year with a Storm of Story Ideas

~by Sue Heavenrich 

I love the beginning of a new year. It gives me a great excuse to buy pens and notebooks and sticky notes... and inspires me to list my writing goals for the upcoming twelve months. And then... I eat chocolate and split wood and procrastinate.

But not this year because Tara Lazar - the very Tara of PiBiIdMo fame- has a brainstorming challenge to get us going for the year. It's called Storystorm and it happens this month! 

If you participated in PiBoIdMo - aka, Picture Book Idea Month - you'll remember it was during November. The idea was awesome: jot down an idea or two for picture books every day during the month - kind of like NaNoWriMo but with way fewer words.

The timing was not so great. "Over the years I kept hearing the same questions," Tara said. "Why November? It's always such a busy time, what with Thanksgiving." She paused, musing that she never meant it to be a burden. "So I got to thinking, what month could I do it?"

The answer: January. It's a new year and what better way to start a new year than with a month of new ideas!

"People probably have some writing resolutions to begin their new year. So I figured I'd make a challenge that would fit in with that. It would be like going to the [writing] gym," Tara said.

 But wait! There's more! Tara wanted to open the idea-generating challenge to any kind of writer or artist, whether picture book or novelist, illustrator or fine artist. "Putting aside time everyday to think about projects is a good habit," she says. "I see the Storystorm challenge as an opportunity for people to unplug and take time to think about their art." 

Storystorm is a month of brainstorming, Tara says. At the end of the month participants should have their brains filled up with ideas and be ready to go. Tara has a month's worth of guest bloggers lined up: novelists, picture book writers, nonfiction writers, artists, and experts in creativity. Registration is open through Saturday, January 7  here, where you'll also find a link to the Facebook discussion group. Check Tara's blog daily for Storystorm posts.

"It takes 30 days to make a habit," says Tara. She hopes people will continue this daily habit of catching ideas for the following eleven months.

When Tara isn't rounding up story ideas, she's busy writing and raising her children. She's a member on the Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature conference committee and also a mentor for We Need Diverse Books. She's written a bunch of picture books (The Monstore, I Thought This Was A Bear Book,    Little Red Gliding Hood, Normal Norman,Way Past  Bedtime, 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story) and she’s busy on her newest project: The Whiz-Bang Word Book - an illustrated dictionary. You can find out more about her at her website,


  1. I'm already in Storystorm. Day 2. Good stuff. Thanks, Sue!

  2. Hey, Sue, love the inter for those who may not know the background of Storystorm. I'm in it and day 1 seems like it was written for me. Let's storm away.

  3. Thank you, Sue :) I'm working on today's idea. I'm determined to find one each day!

  4. My niece texted me last night (even though I have a stupid phone that doesn't even have a texting plan) with a website link of a story she was sure I would want to write about...and she was right! So I have my idea for today and I've already started an EasyBib project to add bibliography links as I find them. And yesterday, a family friend called to wish us a Happy New Year and she told me that her brother-in-law had a fascinating story to relate about his childhood...WOW...that was yesterday's STORYSTORM idea. Thanks so much, Sue...I can just feel the enthusiasm in the air. ;)

  5. So glad for this month-long idea festival from Tara Lazar.
    Due to travel, I'm taking advantage of her policy of commenting when I can, catching up when I can. I made sure to register by deadline.
    Great post, Sue! Happy New Year, too!