To Aesthetic or not to Aesthetic?

aesthetic a particular theory or conception of beauty or art a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing to the senses and especially sight

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic

The dictionaries haven’t caught up yet, but I’ve been noticing a different usage of the noun, aesthetic, among the writing community. It refers to a particular object rather than a general theory or conception. Here’s an example:

Here’s another with a different feel:

I think this idea probably arose from Instagram but it seems to be taking off on Twitter, too, mainly among young writers. It’s a digital form of a mood board, a tool that has been used by designers for decades. Although it doesn’t have to be digital. You could go old school and fix actual pictures to a literal board:

For a writer, I can see that creating this kind of aesthetic and displaying it in your writing space could provide inspiration and keep you immersed in the world of your novel. However, it could also be an enormous time waster as you go down the aesthetic rabbit hole, spending hours finding just the right images, crafting the absolutely perfect design. The one that speaks to you. The one you’re proud to share on social media.

And there’s another time waster right there. I suspect that composing aesthetics and sharing them could become quite addictive. Not to mention scrolling through everyone else’s. They’re called aesthetics for a reason. They are pleasing to the senses, as the definition states. They tend to be beautiful and/or arresting. You want to keep looking at them.

So, given that I am very inclined to go down rabbit holes rather than just sit and do the work of writing, should I try this? I won’t lie to you. I am very tempted. Very. It looks like a lot of fun. And it’s sort of to do with writing. Right?

The other issue is that I am not a young writer. Far from it. Perhaps I am too old to be playing like this. Perhaps I should be more grown up and serious about my craft.

I haven’t decided. I could permit myself an aesthetic-making session as a reward for completing a certain number of words and/or hours of working on my current draft. That might work. If I do go ahead and create my own aesthetic for my work-in-progress, I’ll share it on the blog.

In the meantime, what do you think? Would you consider creating aesthetics for your writing? Or are you already an experienced aestheticist? If so, how are they working for you? Share opinions and links in the comments.

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