You’ve felt guilty (right?) about using your time viewing recipe photos and fashion collections when you could have been writing.
Pinterest is the talk of the online town. Many people I know who use the service describe it as addictive. According to PC Magazine, it has 2 millions users and had 11 million visitors in January 2012 It’s one of the fastest growing social media sites ever.
But you can do more with Pinterest than just look at pretty pictures. It’s also another tool that you can use to enhance your writing life. Here’s a summary of the site and a list of ways writers can put it to use.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a social media site that focuses on images. It’s a virtual bulletin board where you can “organize and share the things you love” — a place to pin your interests, which can be seen by millions within the images you discover, collect, display, and share. The site has categories for images, and you can browse by topic to narrow down the images to your interests.
Here are the basics:
- To join Pinterest, you must be invited either by a current member or the website itself, and you must be a Facebook or Twitter user. Once you’re in, the pinning begins.
- When you find images of interest within the Pinterest community or from a web page, you can “pin” those images to your pinboards (created and named upon sign-up).
- You can also add a “Pin It” button to your bookmark bar and add images as you surf the web. People are directed back to the original source when they click on the image.
- If a Pinterest member enjoys one of your images, she can “repin” it to her own board, “like” it, add a comment, and even follow one or all of your pinboards. (Sound familiar? CEO Ben Silbermann appears to be friends with Facebook — for now.)
- One con: When you sign up, Pinterest chooses people they think you’ll want to follow. To this day, I haven’t been able to rid my activity page of people I never followed. I’m told that Pinterest is working on this bug. (No, I did not follow Jessica Alba.)
How can a writer use Pinterest?
Take advantage of this free tool as an idea generator and a place to show your creativity. I joined after reading a post describing its usefulness for writers. At that point, I was saving image links in Scrivener, but I liked the idea of having a site dedicated to my clippings and ideas.
Here are the ways I’m using Pinterest for the creative side of my life.
- As a novel vision and research board. Create boards for your protagonist, antagonist, location, setting, research — any part of your story. Collect images that will help you with a description or inspire a scene. I have several boards set up for this purpose.
- As a way to help your readers get to know you better. When I told a fellow writer that I wasn’t sure what I could share on Pinterest, she responded, “It is fun … sometimes, you don’t want to write … you just want to look at pictures that inspire you. … Even if you don’t contribute, you can “repin” or “like” and it allows your followers to see a bit more of your personality.” I liked the idea. So, a few of my boards will feature images to that effect. For example, I have a board called “My Photos” where I’ll include some of my original photography.
- As a writing prompt. I’ve set up a board and titled it “Writing Prompts.” There are thousands of images; some are unique and quite beautiful. Pin or like the ones that spark an idea and use them as a prompt for a story or poem.
- Share your work. Natalie, who introduced me to Pinterest (and who I quoted above), is pinning her “Wisdom Squared” creations. That gave me the idea of pinning my weekly writing quotes for others to enjoy.
- Connect with people. With the commenting feature, you can network with other people, just like you can with Facebook and Twitter.
- Boost your blog traffic. If you have a blog, start to think about the images you use for your blog posts. If they’re eye-catching and unique, readers may click the pin button (remember to add this to your site). A link to your blog post is added to each image, so a re-pin will allow another person to discover your blog. If you have graphic art skills, create your own images to make sure they stand out from the crowd.
(Click for a larger image)
The best way to see how Pinterest works is to jump in and try it for yourself.
How are you using Pinterest to enhance your writing life?