Today, we’ll bust a myth of whether Doing Research is still worth it for your business given the changing times. I have been writing every day for some time. It means that I make myself a cup of coffee every day, then sit down at my desk and open my notebook. The laptop is still asleep. My partner is still asleep. After half an hour, I hear the first neighbor leaving for work.
It’s six in the morning when I finish my first session. And so every day. Writing every day seemed to me to be just counter-productive (if such a word exists at all. If not – it would have to be added for people like me).
It wasn’t even that I was looking for inspiration. There were just days when I didn’t know what to write.
Writing every day seemed to me to be just counter-productive (if such a word exists at all. If not – it would have to be added for people like me). It wasn’t even that I was looking for inspiration. There were just days when I didn’t know what to write. So I decided to help myself a bit with the free paraphrasing tool.
On days like this, I chose what I called “work on my novel”. This work consisted of several elements, and indeed some of them slightly touched upon writing. I was convinced that in order to create a scene, I had to plan it first. Or at least “talk to my heroes about it,” which is not stupid … if it doesn’t replace writing itself.
Is There a Word of Comfort Better than Doing Research?
Any writer who has touched on a genre — while doing research here and there — whereby, building the world is essential — knows that there is nothing more fun than prior planning. You can get to know your heroes inside out, create a new language, and become the architect of the fictional skeleton. Write down, check, search, confirm.
Ask yourself this:
- How many writers are still wandering the google labyrinths summoned on a journey to discover the secrets of building the roofs of 16th-century English homes?
- And how many with madness in their eyes are looking for the answer to the question, what are the differences between given breeds of horses?
- How many solve the puzzles of the ancient pyramids and learn hieroglyphs to empathize with those times?
The times about which they decided to write one paragraph? Glory to those who managed to get out of the treacherous embrace of research! But, it’s not just fantasy writers who fall into a research frenzy. I remember in the second year of writing my novel, I realized that I was in the New York Archives, burying in some pictures of the first world immigration to England.
How I managed to get out of there, I have no idea. Saying all this, I want to emphasize that I am absolutely not against research. Novel planning and factual accuracy are essential tools to build a convincing and believable world.
However, when research overshadows writing itself, or worse when research becomes an obstacle to writing – that’s a big problem that shouldn’t show up in a town without an exclamation point. It’s not a problem.
This is a problem!
Research, like the editorial office and other such processes, must be given a separate space from us, not taking away valuable time (of which we often have terribly little!) Writing.
Unfortunately, planning a novel and searching for information about the world we create is a beautiful illusion of work. On the one hand, we are actually working on something, but unknowingly we fall into the most clichéd bottomless well. Research – it never ends.
We tell ourselves – I’ll just check one more thing and we start exploring the nooks and crannies of the search engine, watch videos that only sixteen other people saw apart from us, do a course on a subject that our hero used to be interested in for a while. Let’s call it a spade: such research is procrastination.
You can be indignant – I was defending myself like any procrastinator when Scarlett pointed out the next week when I hadn’t written a word.
I had a reason, although today I would call it an excuse: I needed to know one more thing before I could start writing.
Why write for research?
The writing process, like many processes, is not linear, but that’s how we often approach it.
Maybe it is the result of our education? I have been teaching my cousin English for a week now – she is fifteen and speaks English very well. When I asked her if she spoke English in her class, she told me no.
‘The lady tells us that we must learn first and then we will talk’. I would be shocked if it weren’t for the fact that I heard the same text twenty years ago from my own teacher when I was still living in the Philippines. We grow up to be perfectionists who try to avoid mistakes all our lives. What’s the best way not to commit them? Of course, do nothing.
Writing first, then procrastinating!
I myself spent many years trying to write the perfect draft – a manuscript that turns out to be ready for publication the first time. And every time I sat down to write, I felt like running away. Each word carried unbearable pressure.
I did not get any pleasure from writing. I’ve also become conservative. If something worked, I didn’t want to change it, and at one point in my novel, magic started to run out. I was afraid to experiment because I didn’t know if any of these experiments would work. I didn’t want to take the risk as it was a potential “waste of time and energy”.
Creativity? What creativity? Yesterday I read about some research in which a professor at the University of Florida divided his photography students into two groups: one was to be graded on the number of photos provided at the end of the semester; while the other was judged for quality.
In the first group, students who took one hundred photos were given a six.
90 – five, 80 – four, and so on. In the second, each student was supposed to bring only one photo, but that photo had to be practically perfect.
At the end of the semester, when all students submitted their papers, it turned out that the best of them came from the first group. Or groups of students that were evaluated for the number.
Research or Workshop
While the students who were to provide one photo ruminated on what would be the best object; students judged by quantity spent time experimenting with light, color, and themes. They just developed their workshop.
Research is one of the most important elements in creating a novel, as is knowledge of theory in music or going through art galleries in search of your own inspiration as a painter. However, to write something, you don’t need to research BEFORE you reach for a pen. Just like you don’t need to speak perfect English BEFORE you speak.
Writing first, then research. Writing first, then editing. And then writing again. Writing is the MOST IMPORTANT part of … writing, so before asking Google about what the funeral was like in the Victorian era, write something first. Your writing should never compete for research space.