Today’s post combines two of my favorite things: Pinterest and writing. You might think that Pinterest is only for recipes, wedding inspiration, and DIY projects, but it is so much more than that! If you know what to search for, Pinterest can be an invaluable writing tool – serving as an organizational system for inspiration, information, and resources.
If you’re curious how you can use Pinterest to storyboard your novel, collect character inspo, or punch writer’s block in the face, this post is for you!
Pinterest is an amazing social network for collecting, sharing, and organizing images and links. Because the platform is image based – each pin consists of an image and its source – it is the perfect place for writers to find visual inspiration to accompany their words.
Just like any other social network, Pinterest has the power to be an inspirational, informative, and social tool, as well as the power to be a procrastination technique. Be sure that you’re using Pinterest to help you reach your goal – whatever it is – and not distracting you from it.
And now, let’s get started.
When it comes to using Pinterest as a writer, there are a couple different kinds of boards you can create and use.
A For-Real Storyboard
Like a film storyboard, you’re creating a scene-by-scene or even shot-by-shot story through images. If you’re a plotter, you might find this kind of board especially helpful for visualizing your plot arc. That being said, you’ll have to do quite a bit of rearranging, as the first pins added to the board will go to the bottoms as you add more. Although this is a great way to explore your story, it can also be a lot of work.
This kind of board can be a catch-all for all types of pins relating to your story. I personally use an inspiration board to collect quotes/words that relate to my story, character inspiration, setting inspiration, scene ideas, images related to the themes in my story, and other images that remind me of my story. This kind of board is much more about aesthetic – how do you want your story to feel/look? Is it dark? Bright? Funny? Historical? Just like the cover of a book, your Pinterest board should be a visual extension of your story.
If your story involves a lot of research or information, Pinterest is a great way to keep it organized and on hand. Although I don’t personally keep an Information Board for my current WIP (as it doesn’t involve very much research), I do keep a “Writing” board filled with general writing resources, blog posts, and information for writers.
Here’s where it can get a bit tricky. Browsing through your Pinterest feed is fun – and the more you pin to your storyboard, the more likely it is that similar pins will show up in your feed – but if you’re looking for specific images, you’re going to need to search for them.
Searching for pins on Pinterest requires a bit of extra thought and creativity. If you’re familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you’ll know that when you create keywords, you consider what your audience will be searching for. Well, searching for pins is a bit like the opposite of that. You have to think, “What keywords would someone use to categorize (type of image)?” or “What boards would a non-writer pin (this type of image) to?”
For example, if you’re looking for character inspiration, searching “woman with brown hair” is probably not going to pull up the specific results you’re looking for. You’re probably going to get a whole bunch of hairstyle pins. I’ve found that you have to think about the type of image you want – editorial, head-shot, action, etc. – and search more specifically to pull up those results. If you’re looking for setting inspiration, just searching “Los Angeles” will probably come up with travel guides, not photos of the city itself. So think – do you want architecture? homes? scenery?
Here are a few tips & tricks for finding specific types of images:
What type of clothing will your character wear? Search for (that brand) + editorial.
How old is your character? Search for photography of (that age).
What does you character do for a living/do in your story? Search for photography of (that job).
First, are you looking for an interior or exterior image?
For interior images, think of the decor style – is it modern, traditional, shabby-chic, vintage? Search (that style) + decor.
For exterior images, think about what kind of home your character lives in or what type of building you’re writing about – apartment, craftsman, bungalow, sky-scraper, strip mall, etc. Search for (that type) + exterior.
For photos of scenery or landscape, search (where your story is located) + landscape photography.
Search (your theme) + photography.
You might be thinking, “Okay, so I make the Pinterest Board… now what?” Well, the amazing thing about Pinterest is that you can always be adding new pins – new inspiration and information for your novel!
Also, I’ve found that my novel inspiration board is a quick way to get inspired when I’m facing writer’s block. Although you have to be careful when logging onto Pinterest when you should be writing (the procrastination temptation is real), looking through your storyboard will surely remind you of a story element you want to develop more, or a scene idea you had, or a conversation you wanted a character to have. When you’re facing writer’s block and the words just aren’t coming, turn on your novel playlist and scroll through your storyboard or inspiration board. Thinking about your story differently – through music and image – takes your mind off word-creation just long enough to let your imagination run free. In my experience, I’m often struck with an idea and get back to writing within a few minutes.
If you’re interested in taking a look at some example boards, check out Athena’s great collection of 20 Novel Storyboards You Should Be Following. You can also take a look at my inspiration board for Life By The Stars here.
And if you have a Pinterest board for your novel, or you create one after reading this post, link it up in the comments below! I’d love to check out what you’re pinning.