Visual Inspiration

I used to have a scrapbook when I was little.

It was actually half a scrapbook, some excessively sensible parent having decided that a scrapbook as large as the child could prove problematic. (Visions of their little darling pasted flat between the covers?)

Big book

Or possibly the number of children involved exceeded the number of scrapbooks. Sharing a scrapbook is best done only with someone who has the same tastes as you; and small children are not noted for their predilection for sharing in any case.

Once I got over the trauma of seeing such an Atlas among scrapbooks (hur hur, sorry…) cut in half, I quite enjoyed the thing. I have vague memories of gluing pictures in to the scrapbook with my father (the gluing happened with my father, not to him.) That was more than twenty years ago, so I can be forgiven for vagueness of memory, I think.

The point, however, is that I enjoyed scrapbooking – the proper old fashioned sort with gluepot and scissors, none of this fancy sticker-studded deckle-edged album stuff you get these days. Proper old-school cut and paste.


So I was quite pleased when the Artist’s Way chapter for May (details to follow) suggested – nay, encouraged – the starting of a scrapbook with images that inspire, encourage, and remind you of the life you want to be living.

In my case, this includes straw bale houses, nice writing spaces, clothes I like the look of, and my own kind of LOL: Little Old Ladies.

Little old lady reading in the park - Orton effect

In a magazine I found a marvellous LOL perched on top of a woodstove knitting, but she looked so comfortable I decided to leave her there. For now.

I’m not entirely sure where the LOLs sprang from, but possibly it has to do with the discovery of my first white hairs and the realisation that what I want to be when I grow up is, in fact, a little old lady.

Visual inspiration comes up a lot in writing, especially for those writers who are visually oriented.

Some have photos of their ideal ‘cast’ to hand while they write, others collect images that evoke the tone or mood they’re going for in their WIP.

The Beaten Path

Some have images more related to writing itself than to the thing they’re writing – an aspirational picture of where they’d like their writing life to be going, or an image of someone or something that inspires or encourages them to keep going.


Some have images of their setting – the more artistic being able to create their own, the rest of us cadging off others – or from the real world. This, for example – ideal fairytale castle for the more realistic sort of kingdom (none of that Neuschwanstein insanity here, thankee kindly):

Fairy tale castle

One writer I’ve heard tell of has a mock-up of the cover of his WIP above his desk so he can see what he’s pushing for.

What about you?
Do you use visual inspiration?
Digital, pasted in a book, stuck on a wall or to the fridge? And do you hunt & gather or grow your own?

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