It’s the latest craze on the internet. It can be extremely addictive. Being a visually-oriented person (maybe more than most), I was immediately drawn to join the masses and start creating my own pin boards. Fortunately, unlike many people, I’ve been able to [mostly] keep a rein on myself and pretty strictly regulate my time spent on the site. But it wasn’t until lately that I realized just how valuable a tool Pinterest could be for a writer.
I’d already started collecting some images for story inspiration, but used the drawn out method—scrolling through Google images, clicking on the photo, saving them to a folder on my computer. I’m not sure why it hadn’t dawned on me to use Pinterest for a method of containment instead. It wasn’t until my Twitter buddy Anna Meade created a collaborative board called “Faerytaleish” brimming with ideas for the faery stories she writes when it hit me. I could use Pinterest to capture my own story inspiration.
Soon after, I created a communal board entitled “Food for Surreal Stories” (since sci fi/urban fantasy is my specialty) and started dumping amazing images into it. A few of my writer friends are also pinning to the board, and I’d love to have more minds spewing cool ideas. If you’re on Pinterest and you like surreal art or stories of that nature, send me an email with your Pinterest name and I’ll add you as well.
The image above is one I immediately pinned into my surreal folder. It resonates with me because it brings forth ideas about time and I’m a sucker for the nuance of time travel. Pictures like this inspire me. They woo my inner Creative. They make me want to write. The artist is Norvz Austria and he’s amazing. Check out his work on Deviant Art.
How and What to Pin
Once I opened up my mind to the idea of pinning images that might spark a story, new writerly uses for Pinterest came flooding in. Here are a few boards you might want to create:
- Boards based on your stories. Tosca Lee, author of Demon: A Memoir and Forbidden (among others) uses Pinterest to collect references for her books. It’s a brilliant idea. This would make a great way to keep all the visual story research together—maps, landscapes, buildings, places, people, you name it.
- A character board (or boards). I’ve talked before about how surfing for images of people sometimes helps me flesh out my characters. Pinning them is a much easier way to save and access them.
- An idea board. Like my Surreal Stories board, this could be a place where you capture images that make you want to write. It might be a poignant photo of an abused woman/child or a faerie dancing on the palm of someone’s hand. It’ll be different for every writer, but it can be whatever sparks your interest.
- A setting board. I’m writing a story for JuNoWriMo that takes place in Lake Tahoe. I’ve been there before, but looking up scenic pictures is a great way to refresh my memory before I jump into the novel June 1st. If your story is set in a specific place, you might want to look up local establishments—schools, hospitals, restaurants, parks, etc. that might be featured in your novel.
- A cover design board. I haven’t started one yet, but I’ve got a folder on my computer oozing with cool cover art—why not put it up on a board? I love collecting other book covers as a jumping off point for my own—or just to glean whatever artistic vibes I can from them.
This is only the beginning.
Inviting others to pin with you, especially on the boards that might be more speculative or theoretical in nature is a great way to brainstorm. In my own work I’ve realized that a huge part of writing is thinking about my book. I have a difficult time sitting idle long enough to contemplate my story, but it’s much easier to do it while browsing Pinterest—as long as I make sure not to get off topic.
I’ve also heard of using Pinterest as a marketing tool, a way to get your book seen. I think that’s a great idea for those who have the time and effort to do so. For me Goodreads covers that and keeping up with it is enough. If only there was a way to import all my five-star rated books…
Do you use Pinterest? What other ways have you found to use it as a writing tool?