While this was my first year participating in Storystorm, the month-long, brainstorming event was first started under a different name (PiBoIdMo) in 2009 by picture book author, Tara Lazar. (This was originally an event for picture book writers.) It changed to Storystorm in 2017 and is held the entire month of January.
So, yes, it was my first year, but I know it won’t be my last. You may ask – well, why is that?
Because coming up with 30 ideas in 31 days was not only challenging, it was inspiring!
Once you’ve registered for this free event in December, you receive daily blog posts from authors, illustrators, editors, and other publishing professionals. I looked forward to reading these blogs every day. They were full of ideas for mining stories, but they were also about the blog writers’ journeys.
Let’s talk about how reading and commenting on these daily blogs changed my life this January. It’s the start of the year so many of us are ready to begin the year in a productive and exciting way. This event capitalizes on the new year energy by encouraging us to make creativity a daily activity. But it also changes how we experience every day because now we have a specific goal to meet.
The pressure is on! We need to discover a new story idea – somewhere, somehow. We receive a great blog post and then, we are left with some fantastic strategies. Some strategies feel like we can apply them that day. Others are very interesting, but they don’t particularly resonate that day. So, we’re left listening and looking at the world around us, paying deeper attention to our thoughts, latching onto memories which suddenly rise up, and considering the words and actions of those around us.
Each day becomes a treasure hunt. Some story ideas appear out of nowhere. Other ideas come through an image or a word. While a few require a map and venturing into the unknown.
So, I finished the month with 30 ideas. I’ll be honest – some didn’t feel like something I want to write right now. But there were many I feel excited to develop. Which one should it be?
With all the listening and observing I did last month, I was more attune to what was happening around me and what thoughts and memories were surfacing. Two ideas began to come up more often, and I realized it was going to be a battle between them. Until one idea started gathering steam.
It began with a memory I was telling one of my kids about which sparked a middle grade horror idea. I don’t usually write spooky mg or horror, but there was something about this idea that made me excited. After that, I read a middle grade horror with one of my kids, and I appreciated the tension and creepiness of the story. Then, I was in a workshop and there was a talk about how to effectively write horror with some intriguing middle grade book suggestions.
Gradually, more and more ideas have accumulated in relation to this idea: things my kids have said or done, images of the creepy antagonist, and a strong desire to challenge myself by writing something new.
I know what I want to write next! And I’m excited to start fleshing more of the story out in the next few months. (Moodboard and details to come!)
And yes, there are prizes in Storystorm! Wow, really? A grand prize winner was just announced last week with a fantastic prize (an AMA session with an agent). But there are more prizes still to be announced such as feedback from agent and editors, critiques from authors, signed books, etc.
For those interested, here’s a link to the Storystorm blog, if you’d like more information. You can also follow Tara Lazar on Twitter at @taralazar.
Thank you, Tara Lazar and Storystorm blog writers for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and journeys with us. It was a special and invigorating start to the year. And I will definitely be participating in January 2024.