When I first saw the site, I didn’t understand why writers should be on Pinterest. Nonetheless, I joined with the best of intentions. It wouldn’t help my writing, but I would dress like a model without spending a dime. My apartment would look like a spread in Good Housekeeping. I would feast every. Single. Day.
That lasted about a week. Once I discovered that Pinterest wasn’t going to make my outfits nicer or my dinners more interesting without a serious amount of work on my part, I stopped pinning. I had heard of websites using Pinterest for marketing, but I didn’t understand how that worked, unless you were marketing clothing, organic pasta or a home decorating service. Pinterest, I concluded, was a social media platform that simply wasn’t for me.
Now, I use Pinterest every day. It has improved my writing life exponentially. What changed? I started looking at it in a different way. While many writers do use Pinterest for marketing and social media, I found it was most useful for the other two areas of my writing life: reading with purpose and writing with focus. In the process, however, I ended up building community. Inevitably, we all spend a significant amount of time on the web. With a “Pin-It” button on your browser, you can create an invaluable tool and resource for your writing life.
Here are three ways you can use Pinterest to supplement your DIY MFA.
I am writing one book right now and editing another. Each one has a distinct feel. Distinct world. Distinct people. And, whether I’m crouched over a laptop in a crowded cafe or at my desk with the door closed, I need to get myself in a distinct mood to write each one. Before I begin, I’ll take a minute to scroll through the Pinterest Board I’ve made for that book.
These boards are easy to make. To start, I just searched Pinterest for a few key words, saw what popped up, and slowly began building my board. At first, I didn’t really know what to pin, so I pinned pretty much anything that reminded me of my book– a boy with brown hair, a wheat field, the American flag–anything. When I had about twenty pictures, I started getting pickier. I try to add five pictures a day, but I often delete pictures, too, if I found better ones. The result is a working board that evinces particular characters, moods, settings or events. You can share it or keep it a “Secret” board–a private source of inspiration. I still keep a physical mood board as well but, let’s face it, wall space is limited and magazine clippings only get you so far. A book board on Pinterest is just like a physical mood board, except you have more options, less printing and no cutting and pasting!
The key, however, if you’re planning to create or maintain your book board, is to give yourself a time limit. Otherwise, Pinterest can be a big time suck!
I love my eReader. It saves me money and space. But it’s not a perfect substitute for a bookshelf! One of the best things about a stack or shelf of worn in, broken-spine books, is the visual confirmation of all I’ve read. Sometimes, when all your work is on a computer, you can lose track of the bigger picture, and have a harder time assessing progress. With an eReader, I can’t get a good picture of my reading habits, or of my reading plans. With Pinterest, I can create a board for that.
I have three boards for Reading With Purpose. A “To-Read” Board, a “Read” Board and a “Reading” Board. The first two are just book covers–like a digital bookshelf, but easier to see and navigate than the shelves on GoodReads. The third is for anything I come across on the internet that reminds me of a book I’ve read. This could be quotes, pictures, people, anything! It’s a great way to remember the things I loved about the books I loved, which is a powerful tool for every writer.
In addition, you can start compiling a board for book covers you like — it’s never too early to start dreaming! Often, editors will ask their authors for titles they think have a similar “look” to their book. While most authors don’t have control over their final covers, having a quick reference for covers you love or that relate to your book might help you get the cover you want.
By using Pinterest for reading and writing, you will inevitably build your community. Here are three ways:
- Your Pinterest page can be an interesting extra resource for a reader. When I go to an author’s website, I want to know more about his or her process, writing life, reading life and inspiration. Pinterest boards provide readers with a ton of information without having to do much work. This will give you more time to do guest posts and interviews, to interact with readers and, of course, to write!
- You can use Pinterest with your writing friends. If I give my manuscript to someone to read, I invite them to view my book board (Pinterest has an option to keep up to three boards secret). Only me and my critique partners can see it; they can post if they find something on the web that reminds them of my book. I still retain primary control over the board–anything I don’t approve of, I can delete. But I’ve found it very fun to see what other readers bring to the book, and what great pictures they find!
- These book boards can be revealed at some point before a book publication to drum up excitement. They will give readers a peek into the story and world of your book. When people are scrolling the internet, they might now want to read a long synopsis or excerpt, but you can catch their attention with a beautiful board. A picture, in this case, might really be worth a thousand words.