Like everyone else, I use Pinterest for collecting recipes, decorating ideas, craft projects and other ambitious Martha Stewart-y ideals I’ll never live up to in this lifetime. But I’ve also been using it to brainstorm and collect story ideas.

Note: My “typical” Pinterest usage is on a completely separate account (webchicky) from my word-related Pinterest account, which is what I’m going to focus on here (staciarogan). By following one, you aren’t subjected to the other.

In addition to boards with freelancing resources, quotes, editing notes, marketing ideas, reading lists, book hauls, and how-tos, I have three brainstorming boards. One is for writing prompts and story ideas, one for story settings, and one for characters.


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From there, each includes multiple pins on that topic. Because that’s how Pinterest works. Sometimes, it’s because something specific has caught my interest and I have an idea how I’m going to use it. Often, I have no idea how I might use it but I found it intriguing so I pin it away for later. Occasionally, I go randomly searching for images of people who grab my attention.

Let’s take a closer look at my “Characters” board.


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Interesting crew, huh? I often leave myself shorthand notes if they’re based on a specific character. From top right, the red-headed gentleman is from a hairstyle site. No idea where I might use him but he looked interesting so I pinned him. I have an idea I’m loosely developing right now that involves an old house. An old house feels like it needs an old woman and an old man. Maybe a grandmother, maybe a grandfather? Maybe ghosts? Maybe lonely or lovely locals? I spent some time at a couple of free image sites (Pixabay, FreeImages, and iStockPhoto, plus Google image search) searching for “old lady” and old man” and came up with those next four images on the top row. How great is the old lady with the gun as a character? She’s from a news story, but I’d rather not think about who she really is and focus on the image she provokes for brainstorming.

In the bottom row, you’ll see TOWOS-Meredith, followed by TOWOS – Adam. These are characters from the piece I’ve been banging my head against for years and haven’t brought around to completion yet. And then there’s CHF-Olivia, the main character of a project from years ago, always creeping at me.

The same applies to my other brainstorming boards, especially with settings. Sometimes I’m reading a travel article or I see an image and I pin it. Today, I searched out the image of a disorganized bookstore and pinned it because the idea appealed to me.

Once I get deep into brainstorming a specific story, I’ll likely create a dedicated set of boards for it. They may even need to be private; I’m not sure yet.

Do you use Pinterest for brainstorming your story ideas? What do you do differently? The same?  Any other amazing uses for Pinterest that are somewhat off the beaten path of wedding planning and throw pillow choosing? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)