How To Use a Tumblr Blog for Writing Inspiration

There are many different methods and tools to utilize in order to gather and maintain your creative writing inspirations. Some people identify best with music, others with a notebook and their own brief musings, while others do best with visual inspirations. I am definitely in the latter category: I need something to look at, relate with and organize together in a fashion that is not only reflective to my subject, but also a guaranteed spark to re-ignite me if I’m in a writing slump.

This blog will walk you through how to create my favorite method of farming inspiration: a Tumblr blog. It’s refreshingly easy and can be used to represent an entire body of work (like a novel or short-story) or for each individual character you might connect with or need connection with.

Create a Tumblr Account

This first step can be done in one of two parts. If you don’t already have a Tumblr account, you’ll need to create one! Head on over to Tumblr and click the ‘Getting Started‘ link. For the username, you can pick whatever name you’d like but if you plan on having multiple Tumblr blogs for different ideas or characters, keep each name relevant to each project. Once you’re signed up and you’ve validated your account by email, you’re ready to move on.

If you already have a Tumblr blog but want to create a side-blog, you can do so by going to the Tumblr main dashboard, clicking the account icon (the one that looks like a person) and selecting ‘+New’ (see below). This will walk you through the steps of creating a side-blog that is listed under your main Tumblr account. It has all the same functionality as your main blog, except you cannot follow other users/blogs as you normally would. Other users can follow you, however!

Edit Your Theme

The default Tumblr theme is relatively boring, and this inspirational blog is meant to be spicy! Once you’ve created your new account, it’s time to pick a theme that works well for you. There are hundreds of free themes to choose from that range in color and overall organization. Some are simple with each post or picture in a smooth flow or line, while others paint more of a collage setting.

To edit your theme, click on the ‘Edit Appearance‘ button located on the right-hand menu, and then click ‘Edit Theme‘ under the Website Theme category. Your blog will open and a new side-menu will appear on the left, giving you a variety of options to choose from and settings to adjust. If you’re unfamiliar with these settings, you can leave them be. Otherwise, tinker to your heart’s content!

For now, you’ll want to stick with the ‘Browse Themes‘ button towards the top. From there, you toggle the ‘free themes’ option to browse all of the no-cost theme options for your selection. Once you’ve made your choice, save your changes and then it’s time to fill your blog with inspirational pictures and words!

 Get to Reblogging

The Tumblr term for sharing or displaying a post (no matter what the content is; ie photo, text, etc) is ‘reblogging’, and that is the center of your next focus. Now that you’ve made your Tumblr blog and polished it off with an inspirational theme, it’s time to start filling it up with posts relative to your blog’s main focus.

Head on back to the Tumblr dashboard (aka home screen) and start utilizing that search bar at the top. Type in whatever strikes your fancy: if it’s a blog for a character who, for example, is a knight, you can search ‘knight’ or ‘armor’ or anything related to that subject. Your goal is to find and reblog pictures, quotes or text that help you better imagine that character, or that represent them in a way you might not be able to articulate yet into words. Look for things that speak to you: if it doesn’t move you to some degree, it’s a hard pass. The goal of this blog is to inspire you, and if you fill it up with unrelated images or images that don’t quite represent what you’re looking for, than the purpose of the blog is lost and wasted.

A brief but important interruption: Tumblr searches can contain mature and NSFW content. I always err on the side of caution (and eyeball self-preservation) by making sure the mature content filter is on. It’s shaped like a little padlock above the content that appears via your searches; if it’s unlocked, you risk coming across some questionable material. Unless you’re looking for smut! In that case, you be you, no judgment!

Moving on! The controls for reblogging, saving or distributing tumblr content are located at the bottom of each post, and look like this: 

Moving from left to right: the arrow allows you to send the post to another Tumblr user; the speech box allows you to comment on it; the motion arrows will reblog it to your blog; the heart ‘likes’ the post without actually posting it to your blog. ‘Liking’ a post can be useful if you like the content enough to keep a record of it (you can view your likes at any time via your settings) but don’t want it to show up on your blog for whatever reason.

Tracking Tags

By now you should have a healthy start to your collection of posts on your blog! If you find yourself repeatedly attracted or using specific search terms in order to find content to fill your inspiration blog, you can save yourself some time and ‘track’ specific ‘tags’ to keep for later searches and use.

To track a tag, once you’ve entered in your search and pressed enter, you’re taken to the results page. Inside that same search bar at top, you should now see a word at right called ‘follow‘. Clicking this will save that specific search so that you can view it at any time in the future, and that search will display all of the new posts under that search term. People all over the world add new posts to tumblr every day, so there is always new content to browse and put on your blog.

If your inspirational blog is also your Main Tumblr blog (not a side-blog) you can also follow other blogs (by clicking the follow button next to their name) that are in the same genre. Their posts will then appear on your tumblr dashboard for you to browse freely without having to search for them.

Tips & Tricks

  • Keep your searches as specific or loose as you want, depending on what you’re looking for.
  • Do you prefer animated gifs to standard photos? Add the word ‘gif’ to your search and you’ll produce more animated results.
  • Is there an actor/actress/role that reminds you of your character? Don’t hesitate to search for them in specific movies or television shows and reblog those images! Again, you’re looking for things that inspire you, and if you have a character that reminds you a lot of Daenerys Targaryen in personality or appearance, then get to searching for those Game of Thrones pics. The sky’s the limit!

I currently have a main blog where I post and share personal interests, a side blog for the main character of my manuscript, and several other side blogs for various forum roleplay characters.

Be sure to share your inspirational tumblr blogs with me in the comments! I’d love to view them and fawn over your works! Your inspiration is my inspiration.

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