I've read a lot about how people love Pinterest, but it's a total time suck and they never DO anything that they pin on their boards. Or conversely, how people just don't "get" Pinterest, that it just seems to be a kind of cluttery virtual hoarding by squee girls.
Not me. Yes, I probably spend more time than is good for me browsing Pinterest, but I also try an awful lot of things that I see on Pinterest. I also use Pinterest as a resource for when I have my own projects to tackle. So I thought that I'd discuss some of the ways that I have used Pinterest not only to inspire but to actually DO STUFF.
1. Pin stuff you like!
This might seem self evident, but often when I am not sure what I am doing, the very act of pinning stuff will help me figure out what I really love, what I dream of, what I'd like to be doing and where I want to go with myself. Often, while I'm pinning, I will begin to notice trends in my interests, like dark colors or stamping or stuffed dolls. Which brings me to the next thing...
2. Make your boards as specific as possible.
It is very easy to just think one Crafts Board or one For The Kids board will do, but if you want to actually do stuff from pinterest rather than just squee over great ideas, it helps to make those boards very specific. So rather than one Crafts Board, I have Crafts and Stuffed Creations, Craft and Crochet, Craft and Stitch (hand sewing), Craft and Be Ye Unafraid of the Machine that Sews (yeah, my machine intimidates me). And that's not even counting the DIY boards I have, where I put tutorials and upcycling and other stuff. The important thing is that I gear my boards to my activities and needs and desires. I like crafts and art, so the majority of my boards are related to this... but they don't have to be. You can have boards focused on holidays, music, travel, fashion, food, kids activities, reading. But the more specific each of those categories is, the easier it is to actually find what you need when you are ready to DO STUFF.
3. Create Action Boards.
These are not mere inspiration boards, but these are boards where you pin things that you are in the process of planning, creating and researching. These boards might be something like a To Do Board, where you pin stuff you want to remember to do. Or project boards, like Kids Birthday Party, or maybe Kitchen ReDo ... basically any involved project can have its own board. Actually, giving a project its own board means that it will stay on your mind, rather than falling into the cracks and getting ignored. Every time you're unwinding on the internet, if you see something that might fit into your project, you can pin it, and that will get you thinking about it. If you are always thinking about a project, you're much more likely to actually do it. Plus, there's such a wide range of ideas on pinterest, that your personal project can become ever more creative and interesting.
4. Create Photo Reference Boards.
This is particularly something that helps me if I am creating something with visual interest, whether it's decorating or painting a picture or sewing the doll above. I'm not the kind of person who just copies what someone else did, but I am unashamedly inspired by what other people have created. For instance, I had some trouble when I was making this doll, because I didn't know what I wanted her face to look like.
This is the face I came up with, but not before I looked at and sketched out a bunch of other faces like this and this and this. In the end, I came up with my own face, but looking at what other people had done gave me a sense of what was possible and what I liked. When I was making my stuffed owl, I used many references of real owls that I had collected on my do it photo reference board, so I could get away from the stuffed owls that were out there and make mine, if not more realistic, then at least more reminiscent of an actual Hedwig.
5. Use the Search Function.
I love the search function. In some ways, it has taken over for general search engines. I like that the images are visual and I can browse for my own visual interest. Sometimes I just search a term on Pinterest and then let chance lead me to inspiration. But it also works because it is a curated collection of things related to your terms. Someone has already chosen these images because they love them or found them useful. The search function was particularly useful to me when I was looking for ways to do this doll's hair. I felt like I'd never done the hair right, so when I searched on pinterest, I was looking for a tutorial for doing hair "right." I found this and knew that this was the right way to do doll hair... but then I was also running out of time so I kept searching for something less.... intimidating. I didn't want to do something in felt, although it was cute, so I kept searching until I found this tutorial which is what I used and which came out fabulously.
6. Participate in the Community
People have answers. If you are stuck on something, ask a question on a relevant pin, and someone might have an answer. Or, solicit advice from your followers. Ask them if they know the right way to make a doll wig, or if a recipe works out the way it looks, or... well hey, I've been asking for all sorts of advice on my library board. I want to know if books are good or just hype, or if my kids will like them. The answer for this book seems to be yes. Something to be aware of here is the caption that you pin. Very frequently, I won't notice the caption when I pin and my followers will respond to a question I didn't have. So if you want advice or reviews or suggestions, pay attention to your comments and captions. Another community aspect that can encourage your creativity are the group boards. Create a board with friends working on a similar project, or find pinners you love and include them or just join in on the conversation where like minded people are sharing their ideas, like in this parenting board.
7. Keep Pen and Paper Nearby
Pinterest is a great virtual pin board, but there comes a time when you have to take things into the real world. To do so, it helps to have scrap paper or a notebook or journal with you while you browse pinterest. You might want to write down a recipe and bring it over to the kitchen. Or you might want to take the good book ideas and bring them with you to the IRL library or bookstore. Keep Lists. Note things down in your calendar. Take the impulse and paint something while you're sitting in front of your computer. If you have tools nearby to write something or draw something down, then it will encourage you to make one of those great ideas IRL.
8. Make a Did It Board
How fun! You tried a recipe from pinterest, or you followed a tutorial, or you crocheted a pattern, or you went to a place on a travel board! Great. Tell us what you did. Put that pin on a board of completed pins and share with us how it worked out. Keep it there as a reference so that you can go back to it again. I've gone back a bunch of times to do this, (it's great.)There is a feeling of accomplishment when you can mark something as done, and it is encouraging to see that other people are out there trying things, not just browsing.
9. Show and Tell
Similar to a Did It board where you pin things that you've attempted from pinterest, you can create a board to show how your own efforts turned out. Make a board of things that you have made, decorated, cooked. Upload your own photos, pin from your blog or flickr account. Honestly I'm still leery of pinning too much of my own stuff, I don't want to be a spammer, but the truth is that people want to be inspired, and when you show them what you have done, they can be inspired to do it themselves. I finally made my own blog board, after a year and a half of pinning. I'm not sure what took me so long, but it's also a nice place for me to see what I've done, how well various projects and blog posts are received, and to share my projects with a wider audience. There is actually a category for "My Life" when you make a board, so hey, why not show your life and what you have created.
10. Review Your Boards
And last but not least, remember that pinterest is not just for grabbing cool images that you see, it is for curating these images, collecting these ideas, saving things for later use. You pinned those images because there was something that grabbed you. Take time to go back over your own pins. See the comments that have been made. Remind yourself why you pinned that gorgeous room or yummy drink. When you first saw it, you thought, "I want to do that!" so periodically go through your pins to remind yourself of what you want to do. Don't forget to look at your specific boards, too. I have boards for various writing ideas. Sometimes, if I want to get back into a particular story, I might peruse this board. See now, you all thought that was just a board for weird stuff, but no, that is actually an inspiration board for my long neglected novel, characters, moods, settings, plot twists etc. So if I want my brain to go back to that project, I go there. Or if I want a new dinner idea, there's nothing like a food board. Shoot, I was browsing that board last night and decided on a whim to make this and it was delicious. Or if you want to do something for a holiday? Hey, this board is rocking for creativity at Christmas. We can pin good ideas all year long, but when it comes time in November to find a new wreath or project, all you have to do is browse your own collection, and you already have somewhere to start.
So THERE! That's it. Ten Ways Pinterest Can Improve Your Creativity.
But before you run off and get your make on, leave a comment and tell me if there's anything I forgot. What ways does pinterest help YOU to be creative. How do you avoid the time suck issues? How does pinning help feed your productivity?