Pinterest and the modern-day writer

I’m sure that, by now, you’ve at least heard of Pinterest. You may even have some experience with it. After all, you wouldn’t be the first person to log into the site, start browsing through recipes, crafts, or jokes, and emerge an hour later with no concept of what time it is.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Regardless, I highly recommend you check Pinterest out. Not for the recipes, crafts, and jokes (although they all have their benefits), but because of how they can help you as a writer.

Let me explain.

1. Get to know your characters

I’m sure that you already know your characters fairly well. Maybe you’ve written out character sketches, or maybe you have more skill than I do and manage to keep everything straight in your head.

But, I’m a firm believer in the idea that you could always learn more about them. And Pinterest could help you do that.

Now, I’m not just talking about how they look–though there are certainly pins that can help with that. I’m talking more about who your characters are.

Let’s use the example of Drake, a secondary character in one of my own WIPs. Drake is confident, ambitious, and takes great pride in the way he looks. I knew all of these things about him, but I couldn’t quite nail down how to represent it in the novel. Then, when I was browsing Pinterest, I came across this:

10RulesOfSuits
Originally pinned from The Meta Picture – The 10 Rules of Suits.

As soon as I saw this image, Drake popped into my mind. Of course he would follow rules like this. As far as he’s concerned, a man can only have his life completely put together if he actually looks put together.

The pin gave me that extra little something I needed to better develop Drake’s character. I have plenty of other pins like this one on boards dedicated to each of my WIPs. The pins help me define how my characters look, what type of decorating they might enjoy, recipes they may like… just about anything you could think of.

2. Develop your novel’s setting

Maybe you base the settings of your novels on places you’re familiar with–somewhere like your hometown or a vacation spot you love to visit. And maybe the school, workplace, or house where your main character spends much of her time is based off of your own.

But then again, maybe not.

Setting is something that I tend to have a difficult time with. I usually know where my stories take place, but I can often only conjure up a vague image of the setting in my mind. This makes it difficult for me to describe the setting for my readers. And how can I possibly expect them to take the setting into account if they can’t picture it?

Pinterest’s myriad photos has been a huge help with this. I can type in any city, country or geographical description I desire, and up pops a selection of choices.

Of course, this process isn’t foolproof. There are always going to be limitations. A perfect example would be another one of my WIPs. This particular one is set in Ireland in approximately 1,500 BC. Not the easiest setting to find examples of. I can, however, search for pictures of Ireland’s wooded areas, which will bring up pictures like this one:

IrelandForest
Originally pinned from Darren Giddins (Flickr/Dazzygidds).

It’s not 1,500 BC, but it certainly looks like it could be. Thanks to this picture, I have a much better idea of how to describe where the characters in this particular WIP live. And the dark, pressing mist of the photo lines up so well with the mood that I’m trying to get across at many points in the novel.

Your WIP boards may be ones that you want to keep private–which is totally fine. I keep mine private, and I haven’t yet decided if I’ll share them once (if) the novels are published. But for now, I find it astoundingly helpful to have them.

3. Looking for motivation and inspiration

This, I think, is where the community aspect of Pinterest can be particularly beneficial. It’s already a popular place for writers, and chances are that most, if not all, of them have experienced that same feeling of writer’s block that the rest of us have.

To counteract that, the site is home to everything from motivational quotes to writing prompts. To find them, you only need to take a casual stroll through the results that pop up when you search “writing” or “writer.”

Or, if you want to get a little more specific, you could try searching for “character” or “villain,” in which case you may come across something like this:

Villains Are People Too
Originally pinned from Of Bottles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant.

Regardless of whether you need a burst of motivation or are desperate for some inspiration, you’re bound to find it somewhere on the site.

4. Time for some stress relief

And then, of course, there’s the use that can truly cause a person to lose track of time and find themselves in the depths of Pinterest: the entertainment factor.

This is, possibly, the part of Pinterest that I tend to use the most. When I’ve had a bad day, when I’m woken up by a particularly bad nightmare, or if I’m just feeling down and out, I start browsing the site.

Psych
Originally pinned from imgfave.

There are a few different ways to go about this. I tend to start with either the Humor or Geek boards and go from there, but you could just search for jokes, stories, or your favourite TV show or novel.

Personally, once I’ve found something I like, I save it where I can find it again. My two stress relief boards are “Good for a Smile” and “When I Need a Laugh.” What each is for is pretty self-explanatory, and I’m sure that you could find a system that works for you.

Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Pinterest and your relationship with it as a writer. Have you used as an aid in describing your setting or characters? Do you prefer its entertainment or motivational properties? Or have you never even tried it, and have absolutely no desire to do so?

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