3 Steps to Creating a Happier Researching Process | Guest Post Reblog

I recently had the privilege of guest posting on a friend’s blog. In case you didn’t see it, I thought I would repost it over here. If you haven’t checked out Vonnie’s blog yet, be sure to do that!

3 steps to creating a happier researching process

Every writer has something they dread. Maybe it’s editing, maybe it’s outlining, or maybe it’s researching. Or maybe you don’t dread it, but you’re simply not sure how to go about doing it.

That used to be me.

I love researching, I always have. I love learning new things and discovering easter eggs in history. But when it came to writing related research, I was clueless where to begin. What did I need to know? What should I save for later? What was important and what wasn’t?

I was lost in a sea of research. I decided that I would just research everything, that way I wasn’t leaving anything out. But I learned the problem with that very quickly–it zaps away all your writing time. The time that I allotted for brainstorming was taken away with research.

How could I fix this? I needed a solution. So here’s what I came up with.

Step 1: evaluate and prioritize

You can’t research everything. It’s entirely way too time-consuming, and all of that information may not turn out to even be necessary. When you’re in the brainstorming stage of planning a novel, anything is liable to change at any given moment. So what was important to research yesterday, may have nothing to do with the book today.

Make a list of things you need to know. Then, take that list and think through each item. Ask yourself, “can I start writing without knowing this information”? Anything that answers that question with a negative, place an asterisk beside it and research only those things.

If you’re anything like me, then you’ll be tempted to overachieve and research everything anyways. But, remember, you can always use brackets while writing (e.g. [what did people wear during the Victorian era] [what is New York City like at night]) and go back with the needed information later on. You’d be surprised how many authors do this. There’s no harm in it.

Step 2: avoid bunny trails

Have you ever started researching one thing only to end up on a completely different topic hours later? I know I have. More than once.

There are so many interesting facts out there to be discovered and historical stories that aren’t widely known. All of it and more can suck away your time until you’ve forgotten what it was you were even supposed to be researching. If you haven’t noticed by now, my goal for you is to not waste time and to focus more on your writing.

So, as hard as it can be, ignore the easter eggs. Avoid any trails marked with fuzzy little bunnies. And save time!

You can make notes about interesting things you want to return to later to research more fully. You can do that in your free time, not the time you’ve allotted for your writing. At the moment, only research what is absolutely necessary and nothing more. Otherwise, you’re going to quickly feel like a sailor lost at sea.

Step 3: enjoy the ride

Above everything, remember to have fun! Maybe you enjoy research, maybe it’s the thing you dread most about writing. Well, it doesn’t have to be dreaded.

Using these tips, I think you can create a process that is actually enjoyable for you and helpful for your writing. Sometimes, you can take the easy way out by making things up depending on your genre, but don’t always take the easy way out. Embrace researching as the wonderful learning tool that it is and have fun!

But remember, you can always create your own process that fits you personally. That’s what I’ve done for myself and you can do it for you as well. But it’s only through trial and error that you can find what works, and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

Your turn!

What does your research process look like? What has been your favorite thing you’ve ever researched? What has been the craziest thing you’ve ever researched?

Blessings, Allyson


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