I was an early user of Pinterest. I loved the social aspect of it. It gives people a window into the interests of others in quite a different way than other social networking sites. It’s a very passive form of interaction, but I found it strengthened real life friendships by introducing me to the hobbies and passions I might not have known coworkers or friends-of-friends had.
It’s immensely helpful in organizing my recipes, and I can easily access them on my phone if I need to make sure I don’t forget an essential ingredient while at the grocery store. I love it for collecting inspiration for all kinds of projects, from scrapbook ideas to DIY home projects to photography tips. I’ve used it to collect ideas for library programs, gifts, and the places I want to travel and things to do and see on specific trips. I’ve even got a board just for pretty ballet pictures, because I love them.
In addition to my personal account, I ended up starting a separate one specifically for writing, I found it so useful.
I use it to organize research for specific stories I’m working on, to collect pictures of setting and as a virtual scrapbook of character inspiration. The connections or appeal might not be apparent to a casual observer, but it’s meaningful to me. I have the Pin It button installed in my browser, so if I come across a site or picture I know I’ll want to check out again, I can pin it to a board and even have space to write a note to myself about it.
Do I worry about the privacy of such planning, since Pinterest is a public site and I’m using it to store so many of my ideas and inspiration? No. For the same reason I don’t care revealing that my character’s name is Marigold. Knowing I’m writing contemporary women’s fiction, most people would find it bizarre that I have a board dedicated to solar flares, but I know exactly what I’m doing with that research. I’m not worried about it revealing too much insight into my process. In fact, I like learning about and discussing what writers do behind the scenes and think everyone can gain when people share that kind of information.
Am I concerned about copyright issues? No. You can read this article from the Washington Post that explains why. I try to always pin to original sources, so I’m driving traffic back to their content. There’s an opt out mechanism. I’m not profiting from the use of their images. I think the freak out was kind of silly.
It’s also a fun way to just be inspired. I like to do writing warm ups occasionally, where I’ll do a free write based on a specific prompt. I started doing that when Mister BS did something similar as a journaling assignment for one of his high school English classes. I have an entire board of writing prompts, and I follow dozens more. I might even start posting pictures here along with my little flashes of fiction. I’m working on trying to stick to a posting schedule and that would be a fun exercise.
Marketing and Networking
Pinterest is a fun marketing tool, in my opinion. One of my favorite authors, Deb Harkness, is using it to collect supplemental material about Her Lost Souls Trilogy, which is a great way to add content for devoted fans and attract new ones in a way that traditional marketing never can. YA Highway has a list of tons of YA authors on Pinterest. Some may say that this site is just a fad, but I think it’s a great way to connect with people and share interests. Of course it will be a shame if it becomes solely about marketing, but as long as people share things in an authentic manner and strive to remain genuine, it won’t turn me off.
Of course, it’s dangerous to start to say that browsing Pinterest is working, so I don’t let it creep in on my writing time (because writing time means no Internet for me). Don’t let it distract you, but don’t miss out on a chance to be inspired and organized.
Do you have a Pinterest account? Do you use it for your writing life?