NaPiBoWriWee 2011 Day One – Good Morning!

National Picture Book Writing WeekWelcome everyone to Day One of the third annual National Picture Book Writing Week (aka “NaPiBoWriWee”)! And congratulations to our participants in the UK and Australia for having already had a headstart on Day One thanks to the time difference! πŸ™‚

Just a brief blog to explain how I’ll be working this year’s NaPiBoWriWee. Basically, I will post at least 3 (if not more) live blogs each day. They will include the following:

GOOD MORNING BLOG – I’ll post a morning blog (like this one) with some inspirational writing advice and thoughts about NaPiBoWriWee to get everyone pumped for their big day of writing!

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG – I’ll post a Special Guest Author Blog at the end of the work day, featuring one of our guest bloggers who will also donate an autographed book as a prize for our drawing at the end of the event!

BEDTIME BLOG – I’ll check in with everyone before I go to bed with a progress report. I hope you will also comment on this blog to report on your daily progress!

Keep reading for this morning’s writing advice…

One of the books I had recommended in a previous blog where I listed all the inspirational writing how-to books that motivated me was Anne Lamott’s famous BIRD BY BIRD. Many of you replied how much that book inspired you as well.

Given that the purpose of NaPiBoWriWee is to encourage people to FINISH a first draft of a picture book, I thought I would include inspirational quotes from Ann Lamott to give us that kick in the pants to stop procrastinating. There is a picture book idea I have had for over a year but I have yet to write because I’ve been so busy with my job as a TV producer, plus I also write novels and scripts. So I let the novels and script deadlines and job duties “get in the way” of me just sitting down and WRITING OUT A FIRST DRAFT of this picture book. So I’m going to write my first draft today, come heck or high water. πŸ™‚

Ann Lamott has a chapter in BIRD BY BIRD called “S—– First Drafts.” I call them “Vomit Drafts.” LOL! πŸ™‚ Some quotes below from that chapter to get you inspired for Day One!

From Ann Lamott’s “S—- First Drafts” chapter in BIRD BY BIRD:

p. 21-22 “… S—– first drafts: all good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts. People tend to look at successful writers, writers who are getting their books published and maybe even doing well financially, and think that they sit down at their desks every morning feeling like a million dollars… that they take in a few deep breaths, push back their sleeves… and dive in, typing full formed passages as fast as a court reporter. But this is just the fantasy of the uninitiated… Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it. … We all often feel like we are pulling teeth… the right words and sentences do not just come pouring out like ticker tape most of the times. For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really s—– first drafts.”

p. 22: “The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page…. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten toby more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go – but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.”

I also want to remind everyone that NaPiBoWriWee by no means believes that picture book writing is “easy.” I have had criticism in the past where people think I’m being presumptuous and insulting by claiming that you can write 7 picture books in 7 days. Let me clarify… I think it is IMPOSSIBLE to write 7 picture books in 7 days. BUT… I do think it’s entirely possible to write 7 rough drafts in 7 days of ideas you have been brainstorming in the past or researching, or even just thought of today. To me, the real writing is in the rewriting and revising. Often our first draft gets entirely rewritten to the point that the final draft barely resembles the original draft. The ONLY reason I started NaPiBoWriWee was to encourage people in a fun and positive way to JUST WRITE. Even if you end up with 7 crappy, horrible rough drafts, at least ONE of them might have potential to be revised and submitted in the future. Or maybe those 7 rough drafts might actually inspire ANOTHER idea – the 8th one – that ends up being the picture book you submit to your agent or editor or writing group.

It’s like exercising. You have to exercise every day to maintain your desired weight and health. So think of writing every day as your “exercise” – the more you write every day, the easier it gets and soon, you’ll be writing all the time! πŸ™‚

And for the NaPiBoWriWee newbies – don’t panic. You’re not expected to finish 7 books in 7 days. You’re just supposed to try. So be proud of yourself if you write 7 SENTENCES in 7 days. My goal is to get everyone WRITING on a daily basis and develop this writing habit for their future writing careers.

Well, speaking of writing “s—– first drafts” (or “vomit drafts” as I call ’em), time to stop blogging and get going on my own writing. Stay tuned for the Guest Author Blog and then tonight’s Progress Report blog!

PS. A note about theΒ Prize Drawing: Everyone who is registered to comment on my blogs or has sent me an email request at paula at paulayoo dot com to be included in the drawing will be included in the prize drawing. The prize drawing will be held on May 8th. I will draw several names from a hat for prizes including guest author autographed books, my books, and NaPiBoWriWee store items! You do NOT have to finish 7 books in 7 days to qualify for the drawing. Just participating in this year’s event is enough!


I look forward to everyone’s comments on this blog. I would also love it if everyone could comment on this blog by introducing themselves to our NaPiBoWriWee community. Who are you? Have you written picture books before? Are you an aspiring or published writer? Do you have a blog or website you’d like to share with us? If you’ve done NaPiBoWriWee before, any fond memories of the past and hopes for this year’s event? Thanks again!

Happy Writing! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! πŸ™‚


    • Mahalo, Beth! Fantastic news about your books and stories! I’ll get updated on your website today, can’t wait!

  1. Thanks so much for organizing this, Paula! I participated in 2009, but missed last year because I was recuperating from Script Frenzy! I’ve been published a little, and I write courses for a school for a living. But I’ve never had any of my children’s books or stories published, so I’m definitely a newbie! NaPiBoWriWee was so helpful to me in 2009–I felt ideas swirling about me! I’m actually revising a picture book I wrote back then and submitting it to my critique group this week. I’m looking forward to a fun, creative week!

    • Oh I hear Script Frenzy is fun too! One day I’ll do that, but my job at Eureka is like a Script Frenzy every day. LOL! πŸ™‚ Hope you do have fun this week with us and that it will help you come up with some promising books! πŸ™‚

  2. Morning Paula,
    What a great way to start a month. I’m excited and looking forward to this week of PB writing.
    In this morning’s journaling, I wrote, “I am what I am and I’m not what I’m not. But, I know somewhere in the middle of all that, I am a writer and learning to be a great PB writer.”
    This is my third year participating. Until now I have dabbled in PB writing. This is the year I have chosen to become diligent in learning the muse.
    Thanks again for all the hard work and time you donate by doing this for us.
    Lynn Bemis
    . . .the zebra in the kitchen.

  3. Great post to start us off Paula! Thanks for doing this and for easing any guilt about stinky first drafts. Good luck with your today too!

    • Thanks for your kind comment Cathy and welcome aboard! πŸ™‚ stay tuned for our guest author blog at the end of the day! πŸ™‚

  4. Woohoo, and so the frenzy begins!

    I’m a writer/illustrator who is currently illustrating a picture book written by Michael Ian Black, coming out from Simon & Schuster in 2011.

    I’m counting on NaPiBoWriWee to help me come up with some good picture book story ideas that I can polish up later this year and send out with sketches.

    Thanks for organizing this, Paula!


    • Welcome Debbie, so glad u could join us. And do you talk to Michael Ian Black much? If so, please tell him I am a huge fan of his since his days on The State on MTV! πŸ™‚

  5. Hi all,

    I have always loved writing, but seven years ago I decided to treat my love for writing as a career, instead of just a hobby, and am actively working toward publication.

    When I am not writing I am the Manuscript Critique Service Director for the League of Vermont Writers, as well as the moderator of three on-line critique groups… *waves* to Deb Marshall, Mindy Alyse, and Sheela Chari. SR isn’t the same without you guys.

    • Congrats on deciding to take your writing to the next level. Your Vermont Writers group sounds fantastic too. I hope you spawn some fantastic drafts this week for future publication! πŸ™‚

  6. I am a picture book writer from NC. Unpublished as of yet, but querying agents. I also write MG novels, but picture books are my first love. I’m amazed to be in the company of Paula Yoo and Debbie Ohi and all the other wonderful picture book writers who have joined NAPIBOWRIWEE. πŸ™‚

    • Welcome Robyn and tnx for your kind comment. I too love novels but yes, picture books are SPECIAL, huh? Keep us posted on your progress and with your agent queries!

  7. I did this last year and it was both fun and frustrating. I didn’t quite finish out the week, but I am hoping to make it this year. (Funny story, I bought the NaPiBoWriWee mug for inspiration and the “7” did not print wellβ€”it was faded out. I think that’s why I didn’t make it all 7 days πŸ˜‰ )

    Anyway, I write picture books and mid-grade novels and have published 6 preschool books. I have several ideas I have been dying to start on, but I saved them for this week. Onward!

    • Welcome back Laurie! And yes, it can be very frustrating. Last year I crashed and burned and failed to get 7 books done. This year, I hope to do better even tho I’m working full-time. That’s so prescient about the mug! LOL! Please tell us mroe about your preschool books, that is wonderful! Onward and upward! πŸ™‚

  8. I have worn many hats and have many more to try on. I use my experiences to write children’s books – mostly picture books – and have my first scheduled to release March 2012. Fingers crossed. I am excited about this writing challenge. 1 almost done, 6 to go.

  9. I’m a writer from NJ who spends my days teaching elementary kids in a public school computer lab. I have some magazine publication credits but am unpublished as a book author.

    This is my first time doing NaPiBoWriWee and I already have a long list of new ideas and today I wrote 920 words of my first rough draft!

    Thanks to Mindy Alyse for for bringing this week to my attention!

    • Hey Rita, I heart teachers (I am a certified substitute teacher and come from a family of teachers). You already have a great research background working with kids all day long – good luck and welcome aboard! Keep us posted on your adventures!

  10. Thanks for doing this, Paula. I’m new to writing picture books, and this seems like a great way to start – trial by fire. πŸ˜‰ Here’s hoping for 7 vomit drafts by the end of the week!

    On a totally unrelated note, I love Eureka!

    • Hi Ellen! Yes, I just wrote a “vomit draft” today too. πŸ™‚ Thanks for joining us, and I’m glad you like Eureka! You will enjoy our new season airing this summer! I personally think they should change it to Yooreka, but that’s just me. LOL! πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Everyone,
    This is my 3rd NaPiBoWriWee and I’m back because it’s a blast. Plus I get some writing done. I’m a writer/illustrator of PBs. It isn’t always easy to strike a balance between working on my writing or illustrations so this week gives me a great reason to give writing top priority. The blog posts keep me motivated and the “deadline” keeps me focused.
    I live in France so I’m 6 hours ahead of the US east coast. My PB is done for today–good thing–it’s nearly midnight!
    Happy writing to the other time zones and see you tomorrow.
    And big thanks to Paula!

    • Thanks Dana! Or should I say, “merci beaucoup”? πŸ™‚ Really appreciate your support all the way over in France. Wow. Keep us posted on your progress!

  12. Hi! I’m a newbie to NaPiBoWriWee aaaand I just finished my first draft for Day One… wahoo! I’m an out-of-work children’s librarian actively working on two picture books (my favorite genre), a transitional chapter book, and some poetry. I haven’t had the guts to send anything out yet. I keep tweak-tweaking everything, um, maybe a bit too much. I’ve recently started trying to connect with other writers (like you folks), and that has made the writing life much more enjoyable:) Have a happy week, everyone!

  13. Hi, I’m Sarah-Enid, but most people call me Serena (cuz it’s the all cute and mushed together version of my name, not because I possess any ounce of serenity beyond a Nathan Fillion DVD.)

    I’m an aspiring writer, but this is my first foray into picture books. I’m mostly an aspiring TV writer, but I do a lot of little one shot funny and cute cartoons in my free time. My bro-in-law has been encouraging me to consider trying my hand at picture books, so here I am. If I’m gong to try something, I’d rather throw myself in the deep end– outline and draft a bunch, see if anything sticks!

    I have a blog, but I’m very, very bad at updating it. But you’re welcome to check it out: I’m planning a post regarding NaPiBoWriWee, that I’ll get around to tonight (fingers crossed!)

    • Hi Sarah-Enid/Serena! πŸ™‚ I met Nathan briefly at the SyFy party at ComicCon last year and boy, he’s even more handsome in person! πŸ™‚ I’ll check out your blog, and I’m excited you like writing for TV AND are interested in kid lit! πŸ™‚

        • Mich State rules! I married a Spartan. πŸ™‚ Of course MI is also really muggy and hot in the summer! We can’t win! πŸ˜›

  14. I am a picture book writer from MI. Have not been published yet, but am enjoying the process and learning lots. Hopefully, one of these seven will be just the thing I need to get to the next level.

    Book one done. Six more to go…

    • Welcome Michelle! I used to write for the Detroit News and lived in Detroit (right near Belle Isle). Where in MI are you from? Glad u joined us for this fun and slightly insane adventure! πŸ™‚

  15. My thanks- Paula, you put tremendous personal energy and encouragement into maintaining the supportive atmosphere you have created for us here. The number of cheery comments/followups you’ve already made in the comments section is amazing= + the time and heart it takes! Thank you for giving, Thank you!

    My Intro:(Longish, please bear!) About 13 years ago I was a pretty new kids-writer. I experienced early success with magazines and publisher interest in my picture book projects right off the bat, and was active, helping and helped greatly on Yahoo’s old children’s writers CW list. No substitute for “Butt In Chair”, but internet community like this is wonderful!

    I mention this as my introduction because writing picture books is part of who I am, what I want, what I love doing- and- I stopped short of my goal. Juggling family and life, the stretches of writing time got farther and farther apart until- .

    And my fellow internet CW writers online 13 years ago? Here are names of new-to-picture-book-format writers, who, after lots of work, posted happy stuff to the list like “XX__ is going to publish my manuscript! My FIRST picture book!!”: Karma Wilson, Lisa Wheeler, Anastasia Suen, Verla Kay, Linda Sue Park, Linda Smith(miss her), Janie Bynum, Katie Davis, Dori Chaconas, Bonnie Becker, Grace Lin… They never stopped. Look at ’em now.

    I’m happy to “be back” here, in the much changed, but still open and generous picture book community with all of you. My first pic book draft is almost finished, with a few hours left in the day! This is my first year with Paula’s wonderful NaPiBoWriWee warm-up, and it won’t be the last. Hold me accountable to my word, because life’s short and goes fast, and now the writer-me is exercising every day to get where I want to go- just like Paula says. She’s one of the greats. She knows her stuff.

    • Thank you for your wonderfully poignant and inspiring comment, Ether! You know many of my friends. What a small world! Thanks for your kind words, too. I know what u mean, tho, about life interrupting our writing career and goals. So I’m glad you are back in the game and ready to move forward again… it sounds like you were already taking a lot of good first steps, so let’s continue your journey in NaPiBoWriWee! πŸ™‚ best, Paula

  16. Greetings. I hail from NE. I’ve always loved writing for kids. Don’t have any PB published yet but I do have my first MG Novel coming out in September.

    This is my first time with NaPiBoWriWee. I am working on my first draft of Picture Book 1 of this challenge as I speak. And a challenge it is! But I am having lots of fun bringing my characters to life and building the story. Learning lots as well. Thanks for the great blog and inspirational words.
    C.K. Volnek

    • Welcome aboard. Tell us more about your MG novel – that sounds wonderful! I write both novels AND picture books, and I think both genres are so wonderfully challenging for different reasons. I hope you have a fun PB adventure. Let us know about what you discover with the difference between PBs and novels.

    • I find PB’s are actually harder to write than MG. I love PBs though and keep working at them. But it’s hard to trim it down to the length it needs to be.

      My first MG novel coming out is called ‘Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.’ It’s MY version of what might have happened to the mysterious Lost Colony. πŸ˜‰ It’s a ghost story with a twist of history and folklore. I wrote it because my son (who hated to read) did like ghost stories, mysteries and action stories. He seemed to think this one hit his mark and gave me his thumbs up…(that is after I had edited it to death with the help of my great crit group.) Thanks for asking about it!

      Well, I better get back to the PBs! smile.
      C.K. Volnek

      • Catching up on comments! I agree, PBs are tough cuz they have to be so simple and yet so layered. Every word is like a haiku poem – not one word can be wasted. I looooooove your MG novel about the dog and Roanoke. The dog on ABC’s LOST was my favorite character. This is fantastic! Who’s pubbing it?

  17. HELLOOOOO!! Can your HEAR me way DOWN HERE?? I’m in Perth, Western Australia and I’m on my second NaPiBoWriWee. I owe thanks to Paula Yoo for spurring me on to write my first ever picture book drafts 12 months ago. CHEERS, PAULA!

    I visited the SCBWI LA conference last year and will be there again this year. I’m looking forward to meeting other writers in August and seeing Paula again!

    You can find me on twitter @williamscaz – I am also blogging about NaPiBoWriWee at

    Good luck, all!

    • Caz! I’m up late and just posted a bed time blog! I’m asking people on the Bedtime Blog to comment on what they got done on Day ! Would love to hear your first day adventures! Congrats and good luck on Day 2! xo P.

  18. My fearless friend who is always trying new things encouraged me to do this with her. I, on the other hand, tend to ruts and would not have even known about this had it not been for my friend. I am a nurse by training and currently stay home with my 3 year old. I wrote my first picture book draft last week. I had never tried to write one before. Day 2- up at 5:30 (not my usually wake up) to write picture book # 2 before my wild man greeted the day.

  19. Hello! I forgot to introduce myself πŸ™‚

    Who are you? My name is Marcy πŸ™‚
    Have you written picture books before? Yes, quite a few… now just working on publishing them.
    Are you an aspiring or published writer? aspiring… and published in small magazines and journals.
    Do you have a blog or website you’d like to share with us? Yes! and
    This is my first NaPiBoWriWee!

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