Please tell me I’m not the only one who has a giant folder on her laptop full of random photos from random sites that I kind of want to turn into books. It’s kind of bad. Mostly because I haven’t gotten around to putting them on Pinterest yet (Did I mention I’m on Pinterest???) so they’re still taking up a huge amount of space on my internal memory drive. But whatever.
Anyway, I thought today I’d talk about how important it is to have an inspiration folder for your writing. Because, if you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time browsing the internet and discovering really sweet things that you’ll probably forget about if you don’t save them. That photo of an Indian palace at dawn that’s on your Pinterest board of places you love but will never actually end up going once you become a stay-at-home mom with four runny-nosed kids running around your house? Save that photo. One day you might go through that folder, stumble across that picture, and think “YES! Obviously my next book is going to be set in Delhi! How could I have thought any other way???”
It’s very important that you recognize what can and can’t be stored in your inspiration folder. First, let’s talk about does NOT qualify as inspiration. Nothing. Anything can and should be put into this folder.
Good! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what should you put in there? Well, mine consists of three main categories…
The first is photos of places that inspire me. Anytime I see a photo of a location that takes my breath away, it goes into my folder. It’s very important to me that these are places that could actually make it into one of my books. So there are no abandoned, moss-ridden castles to be found. Those are pretty scarce in 20th-Century America. Instead, there’s lots of photos of diners, fields, trees, parties, etc. Anything that catches my eye and instantly seems like somewhere one of my characters would wind up.
This is a great example of a “setting” photo from my inspiration folder. I can’t remember where I first saw this picture, but it instantly struck a chord with me. A little bench in the woods, under a vibrant red tree. The sky is hazy and warm, with weird coloring, which is probably just a result of someone’s bad editing skills, but I like to imagine it means the sun is setting and the air is getting nippy and crisp. I could picture one of my characters sitting here, bundled up in an old sweater, crying about something or staring off into the distance. Perfect.
Another category is photos of people who I want to make into characters. Sometimes you just see someone in a movie, magazine, or Pinterest board and think, “Wow. That is exactly what Jimmy/Diane/Alex/Sophie looks like. I must hoard this photo and pray no one else finds it.” I do that a lot.
For instance, Ruthie was watching some Nickelodeon movie one day and I came into the living room and spied this guy on the television. Um, yes. The movie was horridly cheesy, but his face and eyes and eyebrows and hair and cheekbones were perfect. So I pressed info on the remote, figured out his name, and googled it. (Max Schneider, in case any of you were wondering) Then I saved a photo like a stalker and decided to make a character out of him one day.
The last category, and the one I am most guilty of, is photos of couples. Because couples are so cute! Kissing, laughing, walking, or dancing–it doesn’t matter. It’s all just so disgustingly sweet. And seeing a cute photo of a couple always makes me more inspired to write the romance sections of my books. So all you girls should thank me for my obsessive couples photo hoarding tendencies. That’s how you got Allie and Sam.
Ugh. Zooey and Joseph…. why you so cute????