As you probably know, November is the month that everyone and her sister attempt to complete a novel via a challenge known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month — http://www.nanowrimo.org/). There are many reasons to applaud this effort, but the pitfalls are many also. This year, I plan to participate in PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month — http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/) instead.
I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2009. I even completed my 50,000 words. (Yay, me!) So I know what I’m talking about. The only goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. No rules on whether there needs to be a plot or whether the end product needs to be coherent. There may be something about not typing the same word 50,000 times, though. This is all on an honor system, so any cheating only hurts the cheater.
PiBoIdMo is about coming up with 30 ideas for picture books. This is the one and only rule for this challenge. Beginnings of a manuscript are a plus, and it would be really great if the ideas were workable. Let me tell you, this is not as easy as it sounds.
Both challenges provide attainable goals. Goals are good. Goals teach us about deadlines, something that warms the hearts of editors and publishers everywhere.
Both challenges provide structure. Or at least implied structure. There is no way I could meet either challenge without working on it every single day of the month. And that’s really the point. I need to learn to work on my writing every single day.
But, especially toward the end of NaNo month, I found myself obsessing about the word count and caring less and less about what words I was putting on paper. I started inserting dream sequences. I went back and gave all the characters middle and last names. I sent all the characters on a road trip. Since PiBo is more about ideas and less about production, I’m hoping I can focus more about quality.
So I’m going to do PiBo this year. Wish me luck.