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#Writers need to maintain a mental scrapbook


I’ve spent a little while working out how to use the visual media site, Pinterest. Now, reading how others operate on the site, I believe that my method of utilizing the images that I pin may be unusual. Like every writer, I try to maintain a sort of mental ‘scrapbook’ of ideas. For example, whilst listening to the radio this morning, I heard a riveting discussion between a middle aged couple. One partner was dead set on moving to the other side of the world, for at least a couple of years and the other didn’t want to go. I immediately lodged this idea in my mind, thinking it would make an interesting dilemma in a novel. It struck me as something to consider developing in the future.
I have begun to use Pinterest in a similar way. Fellow users often enter an interesting description or potted history of the image they’ve pinned. If the story grabs my attention then I’ll add it to one of my boards. This technique provided me some valuable information about the cairns produced during Scottish clan battles in the 16th and 17th centuries, which I referred to in my last book.
The point of this exercise is that you don’t always know what it is you are looking for. Inspiration can emerge from the most unexpected of circumstances. But when something piques your interest and your writers’ antennae starts to flicker into life, you need to capture that snapshot before it slips away from your grasp. So I metaphorically ‘pin it’, adding the scene or conversation to my mental scrapbook. Then, back at the office, I can record the events or dialogue in my notebooks. At some stage in the future, it may find itself into a novel. This is how the process works and I’ve discovered that Pinterest can be a great aid to this. It might not be exactly what the site was designed for but what the heck, it works for me.

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