Pinterest for Writers


Art by Norvz Austria


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.

Visual Inspiration

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?

Related Posts:

Tosca Lee: Fanning the Flame

See It, Think It

Collecting Ideas

9 thoughts on “Pinterest for Writers

  • Thank you for writing this – I had never thought of using Pinterest to keep track of visual inspiration for writing!

    Apart from pinning for my own benefit, I have started using Pinterest to promote my blog posts. For every new post I pin a picture that I think is interesting and matches the post somehow, and then I add the link to the blog post.

    I’ll definitely keep Pinterest in mind for character inspiration – it’s one of the areas where I need all the help I can get 🙂

  • I use Pinterest for writing inspiration, too! It began when I stumbled across a photograph that made me think, “That looks just how I pictured my scene!” I started a board called Writing Inspiration which quickly filled up with a mixture of quotes and photos that inspired me. Eventually I split them into two boards, one I called Story Settings full of photos of real places that make me think of my imaginary worlds and the other board holds quotes about writing. I think once my books are published, I’ll reorganize them and create boards for each book so friends/readers can see what inspired me as I was writing.

    • Cool, Heather. I didn’t know you were on Pinterest. I’ll have to find you and add you to my Surreal board. Just in case you happen on anything.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • I love this idea. My story for Junowrimo takes place in New Orleans and China and I already started just grabbing images and music specific to New Orleans and China. I am not on Pinterest, but will have to look into it.

    Are you all set for June?

    • Cool. You should definitely get on there. It’s a great place to learn about a locale. Look me up when you’re on. 🙂

      And, ack, I’m not quite set. I’ve done a lot of prewriting but still need to solidify my climax/resolution. This week’s been crazy, but I’m hoping to dedicate all my time to finishing that very soon.

    • I always make sure to pin every post on pienertst. I have a board for free stuff, for my reviews/giveaways/sponsored posts and surprisingly enough, have over 100 people following me. Probably closer to 150 now. It’s always important to embed a picture in every blog post you do, so you can always pin it there. You will gain traffic, and even get some repins and likes if it’s interesting enough. On holidays, people are looking for ideas, so when I pinned myself wearing my “take your Irish eyes, off my Dublin D’s” photo, they repinned it like no other. Not sure why, but I’ll take what I can get. 😛

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *