LookBooks and The Writer- Guest Blogger, Elaine Hirsch

This latest post comes from Guest writer, Elaine Hirsch and revisits the concept of LookBooks, examining the potential of this resource, originally applied to the fashion industry, to further assist the writer within each of us...

Elaine is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult for her to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.
Elaine writes:
'In the fashion industry as well as others , people use lookbooks and mood boards to draw inspiration from and define their own particular styles. These creative tools are used to collect visuals of interest to designers, from photographs of models to swatches of fabric to sketches, layouts, and whatever else helps to inspire them and direct their creative impulses in a particular fashion, as well as quickly inform other people as to the specific “feel” of their projects.

Lookbooks and mood boards can be useful for writers, as well. Whether you're working on an essay for an online doctorate or your magnum opus novel, it can be highly productive to collect together in one place resources that inspire you and help you to focus on a particular goal. They're likely to look different than fashion lookbooks or a web designers' mood boards because you are working with more cognitive inspirations and less visuals, but the principles at work remain the same.

Some writers may already have the equivalents of lookbooks lining their bookshelves. No writer exists in a vacuum, and most have been reading all their lives so the influences of other writers on their own writing can't be denied. Having libraries of beloved books at hand to escape into when you're having trouble with your own can be really useful because you can look at them analytically, especially since you've likely read them before.

Think about what in a book impresses you so strongly, whether it's plot twists or certain turns of phrase. Read lots and really try to understand what it is that makes the writers you love masters of the craft. Collect together the books you most want to emulate in your work, whether in form or genre, near your writing desk so you can use them as references. Obviously wholesale copying is no good, but all writers have read something that makes their hearts sing or pound. You can utilize the lessons your favorite authors offer to write more compelling work, and to keep you on track with whatever you're writing.

Writers can make more lightweight lookbooks too though. Fill a large, blank sketchbook with stuff related to your project, whether written words, photographs, or sketches. If you're writing a novel, you can devote a page to the things that inspired you to write it in the first place, such as a news story you heard or a life experience you had, and maybe another page to your goals in the project. Catalogue everything, write notes everywhere. You can literally sketch out characters on a page, even if you don't have much drawing skill. Cut out images from magazines that speak to what you feel is the direction you want to head in or the feel you're looking for.

This can also work for more academic endeavors by clipping in news stories, research papers, or other resources you need. You can also draw out mind-maps on the pages, and then all your work can be collected in one place.

This effort to collect’ inspiration’ can also be done digitally, which can be helpful if you prefer to work in cafes or otherwise travel around while writing. Web services like Evernote and many more besides can be used to collect bookmarks, digital images, and other notes and inspirations into a single visual space that can be used for reference wherever you go, from local libraries to distant lands.

While this creative aid was developed for more visual arts, it's still quite applicable to writing. Assembling together your thoughts and influences into an easily accessible space like this can make it much easier for you to keep a cohesive feel to your work. Whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction, it will help continue to inspire you as well as keeping you focused on your goals in writing. For teachers, this type of collecting represents yet another powerful resource to share with the developing writers in their care.'


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