Because my desktop was starting to look like my desk

Within one week of beginning writing on Scourge of the Righteous Haddock, my desktop was littered with images I’d pulled from Google and various blogs for inspiration. It looked like the refuse of a madwoman simultaneously constructing her dream home, musing over alternate hair colors, and planning a vacation. PinterestCharacters tumbled from random folders, and an exotic island I was researching somehow refused to remain confined to a single corner of my desktop. After losing a photograph that was supposed to help me remember what a particular character looked like, I got confused and later discovered her hair color changed halfway through the novel. (It has since returned to its proper shade, and promises to remain appropriately hued.) It was madness.

I didn’t know then that there was a simple and obvious solution to the chaotic brainstorming clutter sweeping across my laptop. (At times, it even felt like the photos were making their way off my computer and inhabiting the precious physical space in my art room, where I like to write. This was not literally the case, of course, but it does follow that feeling disorganized mentally can spill over into other aspects of your life.)

Had I known then what I now know, my numerous projects—literary and otherwise—could have been neatly divided into boards, freshly awaiting the imprint of new ideas. It might sound silly for a writer to rely so heavily on a visual medium for inspiration, but if you ever find yourself burdened with the task of creating a complete world, you find yourself snatching inspiration wherever you can. Places you’ve been or read about. Snippets of conversation you overhear. Stray song lyrics caught in your head. Surprisingly, the people I know didn’t shape my characters to the extent that I expected. Of more than 50 characters, only two were deliberately drawn from life: one very directly and the other unintentionally, though recognizably. So the rest was left to my poor overextended, strained imagination.

Now, of course, I keep a Pinterest board for Scourge of the Righteous Haddock, along with each of my next four books, as well as plans for a dream home (cliché, I know, but I can’t help it), a board dedicated to my obsession with books and reading, a board in which I muse about ideas for New Times, another in which I plan my dream 30th birthday party or book release party, and a final board for ideas for the grand literary-themed masterpiece half-sleeve tattoo I hope to acquire one day soon.

It’s absolute bliss. When I’m feeling tired or uninspired, I simply scroll through the appropriate Pinterest board to help conjure the world I’m trying to create. It isn’t a substitute for thinking, obsessing, writing, and wool-gathering at every available opportunity, but at least my desktop is no longer overrun by scallywag orphans and giant buses with twinkle lights dangling off the rear.

And Pinterest helps keep my hands busy when I get that itch to sidestep my current project in favor of the next tantalizing beauty. Because, at a certain point in writing a book, it seems like you exhaust your creative reserves and find yourself forgetting why you started the project in the first place. It takes discipline to keep going. But it wouldn’t take any discipline at all to leap aboard the idea you had while flying over Alaska, or visiting the Coliseum, or driving to Salinas. In fact, it would be the most delightful task in the world to begin working on the next project. The problem being, of course, that no sooner will your next project cease to enchant you than you will abandon it as well, never completing anything. Pinterest is a way for me to monitor, develop, and satiate my creative instincts for my future projects while remaining focused on the project at hand. Setting aside an hour to pin images to another board scratches the itch and pushes my next project forward, so that it doesn’t disappear entirely while I am absorbed editing, polishing, and finding a home for Scourge of the Righteous Haddock. I’ve already got my next four novels mapped out (they’re not at the outline phase or anything like that, with the exception of the second, which I’m in the process of writing) and I’m still as excited about them as I was when I originally conceived the idea for them.

My Pinterest page, in case you’re curious, is (Yeah, I’ve got a thing for Jane Eyre.)



  1. Interesting! I’ve been avoiding Pinterest like the plague, because I have enough time wasters in my life. Glad to know it can be used for good! I’m a list maker, so I use Evernote for that. I have several notebooks, such as one called Wedding that has notes with pictures, lists of songs, contact information for important parties, etc; and another one called Books where I have a list of books I want to read, lists for the various series that I read so I can remember what order the books go in (I HATE reading series out of order!), etc. I love my lists!

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