When You Hate to Research
That’s me, by the way. I don’t really enjoy research and am never going to get lost in it and forget to write a novel. In fact, what Advanced Fiction Writing says is absolutely true:
If you hate research, then [you] are probably not doing enough of it and your fiction writing is going to suffer in various ways.
* Sigh * Yup, it’s true. It also doesn’t help when I see another writer produce a huge list of questions about details to research and all I want to do is hide because I’ve instantly gotten overwhelmed. Don’t mistake this — I like some of the information I find because it does inspire creativity, like researching Chinaman’s Hat in Hawaii:
Screen reader: Palm trees and grass frame an island shaped like a hat the Chinese immigrants used to wear.
Butt the process of research is at the opposite end of creativity. I’d almost rather do proofreading.
Almost. Proofreading is pretty boring!
So it starts with making the research as efficient as possible.
I have to know exactly what I need. What I’ve been doing is identifying details in scenes that I need to research. Like if the scene is set outside, “What are common trees in Hawaii?”
Screen reader: Shot of a monkeypod tree in Hawaii, which resembles an umbrella.
Then all I have to do is bring the list of questions with me and hunt down the information with a fast scan through. I also have to make sure I take good notes so I don’t have to repeat the research. Been there, didn’t want to do it, but got stuck doing it anyway. I’ve always had a problem with being able to take useful notes, so I’ve been experimenting with visual note taking.
The time to do the research is also a consideration. I ran across a reference in a book where a non-fiction writer would do footnotes when he wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. So I try to do the research when I know I’m probably not going to be writing. That way, it doesn’t feel like it’s cutting into the writing time.
Do you hate to research? What do you do to make the process of it less painful?
How do you take these three diverse subject — a princess, a boatman, and a lizard — and make them into a story? My short story “Six Bullets” turns the princess into a soldier who has to fight an army of warriors of a river. Check out the Forward Motion anthology, A Princess, a Boatman, and a Lizard.