Welcome to inspiration month. After hibernating through January to recover from Christmas (because that’s what it’s there for right?), I’m ready to launch back into the mythical world of writing. Only problem is, I’m a bit rusty. I’m cold, it’s dark outside and that gap between December’s pay cheque and January’s felt like an eternity. My point is, I don’t tend to find this time of year anything other than depressing. Contrary to the postcards, England is not all snow on the hillside and clear skies. It’s torrential rain, seeing your breath in front of you and resigning yourself to not seeing the sun until April.
From a writer’s calendar point of view, it’s a tough time of year. After the frantic sprinting of NaNoWriMo in November and that indescribable joy when you finish only to be quickly replaced by the deep sense of doom when you read it back and realise editing is basically going to involve re-writing the whole thing again in December and January, by the time I get to February, I need something to kick-start my writing mojo and get myself inspired to once again connect pen with paper. And so I thought, what better way of doing that than dedicating this month to a series of posts on getting inspired.
So stage one…
Back in September 2013 (feeling very old right now), I made my Pinterest confession. I’m a serial pinner and it’s an addiction that has only gotten worse over the last few years. I think Pinterest is one of the most powerful tools out there for an author no matter what stage of the journey you are on. For the pro’s, it’s a great way to reach fans and to walk around your own fandoms and just enjoy the love and passion your readers have for the world you created (to me, that’s one of my favourite daydreams, I dream of the day I can look up boards for my own books and see my world through other people’s eyes), for the on-the-climb authors, it’s a great forum to help build a platform and reach more people and readers and for those of us still on the bottom rungs of the ladder, it’s a great place to be inspired.
I use Pinterest in several different ways to inspire different parts of my writer’s brain.
Words from the Wise:
I love collecting quotes and meaningful little snippets from those who I admire and one day hope to emulate. Sometimes all it takes is the few right words from the right person to really spark that fire in the belly and get my butt down in my chair and buzzed to get that word count flying.
Writing is like wine, we all get better with age. Sometimes that can be incredibly frustrating because I want to skip the whole learning thing and be right at the awesome stage already. While no one can really skip that awkward puberty phase littered with exposition-shaped zits, obsession with writing everything like a melodramatic diary and lest us not forget the dubious dialogue decisions, writing tips can help accelerate the process. I love reading posts on mistakes to watch out for or tips on how to master foreshadowing without tipping your hand (still a bit of a mystical monster to me – I know the theory….). I collect my favourites from across the web and keep them as a reference guide to myself to help me make my writing stronger.
Pinterest has a function where you can choose if you want to let a board be public or leave it secret so only you (and people you invite) can view it. I have literal dozens of these secret boards for each of my writing projects. In The Mirror, Darkly alone has over a dozen. You can split it down however you want. I have character boards filled basically with hundreds of images of beautiful people as I define exactly how I want my characters to look. I have place boards. Colour boards. Mood boards. Writing prompts that have triggered tiny new elements to the story. And reference boards for things like guides on period dresses, the biology of dragons and ten ways to kill a man with a pencil… that sort of thing. When I’m feeling out of touch with my worlds, these boards are the first place I go. It’s a brilliant feeling to be able to actually see snippets of your world. For me, it’s my number 1 go to for inspiration.
Other People’s Story Boards:
So, on a Sunday afternoon when I’m chilling having done the housework, drafted three blog posts and written as many words as my brain will allow, there is nothing I like better than to log into Pinterest and search “novel inspiration” and scroll through other people’s boards. I love that ability to step into their worlds, read their comments and piece together little snapshots of the novel in their heads. Most of the time, I come out of it wanting to read the story already. It’s like freestyle reading. Someone else gives you the pieces but you have to create the story in the gaps. I should emphasis, these boards are not about stealing someone else’s ideas as your own. Yes as artists we feed off the things we see but there are lines not to be crossed. I never take ideas from other people’s boards but seeing other stories in mid-process can help spark a few sparks to get me excited to launch into my own project.
Of these I have around a dozen live and twice that hidden where I’m collecting readying them to go live. I love collecting ideas. It’s the visual version of plot bunnies. I have boards dedicated to written writing prompts (great place to go to breed some of those bunnies if the plot well is running dry) and several dedicated to specific genres. Each picture represents a story I have in my head. I’ll never write them all. But every so often, there’ll be that cosmic moment when a few of them will string together in a pattern I had never considered before and BAM book right there. It’s the Pinterest equivalent of those tumblr posts that end with “write a book already”.