Virtual Hoarding

I was, I suppose, a semi-early adopter of Pinterest. I heard about it, checked it out, played with it. And yet, I never really got it. I pinned things I liked for the wedding: gorgeous dresses, pretty bouquets, decoration ideas. I thought it might help me develop a mental picture of the wedding I wanted to have, and that might help the florist and event staff with the decorations.

wedding pins
My cake was similar. Sort of. And the shoes…

It didn’t.

Really, the florist designed my wedding, and she did a fantastic job. But my carefully curated collection of online images really contributed nothing beyond keeping me busy for a few hours every week. And even then, I wasn’t sure what the point was.

When the wedding was over, I stared at my pins, closed the website, and moved on with my life. I’d hear people talking excitedly about pinning things, finding great ideas for crafts and cooking, and I’d try it again halfheartedly, creating a new board, putting three things on it, and moving on again. It just didn’t captivate or distract me the way it seemed to do for so many women my age.

I was puzzling over my lack of the virtual hoarding gene on Twitter one day, when several of my fellow Scribes told me they used the site to create “inspiration boards” for their works in progress. This intrigued me. As a teenager, I made giant collages on my walls and notebook covers, cutting and pasting photos and phrases from magazines that inspired or moved me, and I would look at those pieces every day to lift me up when I experienced the inevitable teen lowness I regularly felt.

So the thought of a digital collage just for one of my books? Well, you can bet those $700 boots you pinned last week that I wanted to give that a try. So in investigated the boards of my fellow Scribes, and I thought to myself, “Self. This looks like fun.”

I started off slowly, with the actors who looked like my characters. Then I added a protagonist’s gun, and some photos of San Francisco. And that was the beginning of the end.

Just a few of the things.

From book boards, I moved on to fairy garden boards. Then it was gorgeous or adorable animal photos, followed by ideas for steampunk cosplay. And now that we’re about to be homeowners? It’s all about the home decor.

I’ve even gotten my husband hooked. (Shh! Don’t tell anyone or we might scare him off.)

So what’s the deal? What changed, to make me finally “get it?” Is Pinterest just virtual hoarding, as I said, a concentrated form of browsing that allows you to save images and links for no real reason? Or is it something else, a type of creative outlet that helps you simultaneously brainstorm new ideas while also sorting through your existing thoughts? A little from column A, a little from column B?

What do you think? Do you use Pinterest? Is it part of your creative process, or just a way to kill time?