Pinterest: major procrastination time suck or useful author tool?
Honestly, it still wavers between the two for me. I sometimes find myself getting caught up in a pinning time warp and realizing that a quick glance at my board for a story to “get inspired and refresh my brain” before I start writing often leads to a half hour “oooh, that’s cute!” binge.
However, when used in moderation and with intention, I firmly believe that Pinterest can be one of the strongest inspiration tools in a writer’s arsenal. I create a dedicated pin board for each and every one of my novels. It’s an important part of my creative process and one I don’t think I’d be able to do without. It helps me develop characters, setting, plot...there’s very little that my boards don’t inspire me about!
Starting a pin board is one of the first steps I take when I decide it’s time for one of the million and one story ideas in my head to actually move onto the next stage of development. I keep adding pins all throughout the plotting, drafting, and even the editing process. It’s something I can come back to when I’m feeling lost, and it always helps to remind me what the very core of my story is—the real reason I’m writing it. That’s the reason that pushes me through the days of desperation and despair, the one that convinces me what I’m saying is important and deserves the time and effort it take to get it all down on the page.
Today, I’m sharing my top four tips on what and how to pin as a writer. This is a great place to start if you’ve got a story idea in the works and want to really bring it to life in your head. I’ll be using my latest release, Glass Half Full, as an example.
Find the Glass Half Full Pinterest board to follow along here.
Tip #1: Find Your Muses
While I always have an image of my characters in mind before I start pinning, I find it very useful to seek out pictures of people who look like or remind me of that idea. Being able to open up Pinterest and say “Ah! Right! There she is!” when I just can’t get a handle on a character is such a helpful tool. My muse pins range from close ups of things like hairstyles, smiles, piercings and tattoos to musicians or actors who share similar appearances with my characters. Sometimes the people I pin won’t look exactly like the characters I’m writing about, but will be doing something, making a certain facial expression, or posing in a way that I can totally see the people in my book doing too.
Since I write romance, I also pin LOTS of couple photos! Again, these will either be pinned because the image matches the appearance of the people I’m writing about, or because it captures the feelings or dynamic of the relationship I’m trying to describe. I can also be inspired by a couple image reminding me of a scene I have written or am planning to write.
Where to find muse pins:
· Celebrity photo shoots
· Fashion photography
· TV and movie screenshots
· Wedding and engagement photography
· Boudoir photography
· Street photography
For Glass Half Full, I used Amandla Stenberg as a muse for Renee and Danny Amendola as a muse for Dylan. I also found some couple photos that fit the mood and tone of the relationship.
Tip #2: Location, Location, Location!
A pretty obvious one, but Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration for your story’s setting. This can range from what your character’s houses look like to the city or town they live in to the places they like to shop, eat, and hang out. Having these images on hand is great for descriptive scenes where you might feel a little stuck. Just open up your board and imagine yourself standing inside the photos you have pinned. Descriptions will start to flow a lot faster and easier.
Where to find setting pins:
· Travel photography
· Interior design shoots
· Home decor tips
· Nature photography
· Street photography
· Restaurant and cafe interiors
· Seasonal photography
For Glass Half Full, I of course pinned lost of photos of Montreal. I also looked for some autumnal inspiration since the story is set in the fall. Dylan and Renee spend a lot of time at the bar where they work as well as a few cafes around the city, so I looked for images that would remind me of those locations too.
Tip #3: Quotes and Lyrics
Find some words to inspire your words! Quotations and song lyrics always feature heavily in my pin boards. If there is a song that you think your characters would love or that you feel really captures their story, you can pin images of the lyrics. Quotes from books, movies, and other media that shares themes with your story are always useful to have on hand. You might even find something that your characters could talk about in your story—although be sure to check on copyright restrictions if you’re going to directly quote anything. It’s usually a safer bet to simply allude.
Where to find quote pins:
· Artists and musicians
· Subtitled stills from movies, shows, and music videos
· Tumblr screenshots
For Glass half Full, I pinned some lyrics from Chance the Rapper (an artist both my main characters are big fans of.) I also looked up infographics and images about living with anxiety, and since poetry is a big part of the story, I pinned some pieces that matched the themes of the book.
Tip #4: Pin as Your Characters!
This is one is probably my favourite tip. Open up your Pinterest feed and add pins as if you were your character. What would their personal Pinterest page look like? What appeals to them? What would catch their eye? What would they think is a cool idea? What do they find funny? What would make them get emotional? What would remind them of something?
You can even ‘shop’ as your character. This is a great way to get in touch with their tastes. What clothes do they like? What food do they eat? What do they do in their spare time? What are their splurge-worthy expenses? What are they frugal about? What do they put in their home?
This is one of my top character development exercises and something I recommend all writers try out.
Where to find character pins:
· Clothing and accessories
· Home decor
· Hobbies and activities
· How-to posts
· Inspirational articles
· Memes and jokes
For Glass Half Full, I looked up pins about teaching spoken word poetry and managing anxiety. I looked for fashion pins to get inspired about what my characters would wear and how they like to present themselves. I also found some memes I thought they would laugh at.
You can check out all my book-related Pinterest boards here to get some more inspiration. When you make the effort to use it effectively, Pinterest can deepen your understanding of your characters, help you create more vivid imagery and descriptions, inspire new developments in your plot, and fire up your drive and passion to write the best story possible. I hope you give it a try!