Friday, February 10, 2017

A Visual Aid

Yesterday was a snow day here in Albany. My driveway was covered and the streets (according to local news) were treacherous. I slept in and then spent the rest of the day working. Around mid-afternoon, I was deep into what I was reading, completely focused, when I heard a bump in the kitchen. I got up to see what had happened. Harry, my 16 pound cat, had managed to leap from the counter top to the top of the refrigerator. Forty-six perpendicular inches according to my tape measure -- twice his 21 inch length. I was dismayed because (a) he has taken in the past couple of months to prowling across and perching on my kitchen counters. I've been wiping them down with disinfectant cloths before preparing every meal, and (b) the jump he had made was the equivalent of a roof-top leap by a movie action hero. It scared me to think of what would have happened if he hadn't nailed his landing (hampered by an ornamental mug, a bunch of bananas, and the container of oat grass that had motivated his leap). But I sure wished I had seen him do that because when I adopted him two years ago, he was chubby even for a Maine Coon and preferred to stay close to the ground. His diet is working. I would also like to have seen that leap so that I could describe it in a book or short story one day.

I am a visual writer. I need to see the scenes play out in my head like a movie. I also write best when I have seen what it is that I'm describing. Last week I discovered a wonderful new visual aid --

Last week was not the first time that I'd used Pinterest. I opened an account three years ago when I wanted to do a photo essay of Albany, New York  locations (the setting for my Hannah McCabe police procedurals). Since posting the photographs, I haven't used my account. Until last week.

Last week, a speaker visiting UAlbany mentioned how powerful the use of a vision board had been in staying focused on his goals. I've flirted with vision boards before, but never really completed one. This time, I decided to make it easier by giving myself access on all my devices. Didn't work. Fortunately, the website I had signed up for offered a 60-day-money-back guarantee.

That was when I thought of Pinterest -- except I didn't want to have my vision board on display. It turns out -- I must have skipped the tutorial when I set up my account -- it's possible to make a Pinterest page "secret" and designate people who are allowed access. That solved my problem. But when I was about to start selecting images for my vision board about life and career goals, it occurred to me that Pinterest would be perfect for visualizing my books.

I'm now using it for both the nonfiction book about dress, appearance and criminal justice. It's really helpful to be able to "pin" both images of the clothing (colonial era to present) and the memory joggers about the cultural themes that I want to include. I'm doing it chapter by chapter.

I've also set up a page for my 1939 historical thriller. The images that I'm pinning (searching by keywords) come with page links. I now have 240 items related to that year, people, settings, and events. Some of the pins that I've pulled are linked to YouTube music or videos. I'm really excited about the music because I'd thought of using a song for each chapter and now I can incorporate that into my research and plotting.

I'm sure some of you are already using Pinterest for marketing. You may be way ahead of me when it comes to using Pinterest for your writing. But it you haven't tried this other use, I recommend it.

And Harry just leaped from counter top to refrigerator again, and I missed it. Maybe I need to set up a camera to catch him in motion. Or, move that oat grass in case his feline agility is rusty.


Victoria Reeve said...

Thank you for this really practical idea for Pinterest; you've helped unleash a whole bevy of ideas. And please–if you ever do manage to catch Harry in the act, I hope you post the video (or photo). That would be a wonderful sight to behold.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Hi Victoria,

I'm glad this was helpful. I thought I might be coming late to the party with the idea.

Still haven't caught Harry making that leap, but if I do, I will post.

Richard C. Lambert said...

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