To Write or to Research…

Research can be a never-ending path through a beautiful meadow.
Research can be a never-ending path through a beautiful meadow.

I love to do research on just about any topic, but it doesn’t feel like writing. I know it is part of the publishing process, but when my goal is to put 500 words or more into the computer each day research takes away from that.

Most of my research is done on the internet and the internet is like a bag of Ruffles potato chips with a side of French onion dip. I only plan on eating a few and then next thing I know the bag is empty and I feel awful. With the internet I only plan to look up one thing and then three hours has flown by and I feel guilty. I had a lot of fun, but it didn’t improve my writing.

I am now at a point in one project where I have to do research. A lot of research. As I said I like to do research but right now I’d rather be writing. So I have posted a list next to my laptop to keep me from getting lost in the research. I get lost often and need all the help I can get.

My research plan:

1) Set a timer. I use timers for lots of projects. It stops me from wandering forever.

2) Use the 3-click rule. I didn’t make this up but it works when I remember to use it. Essentially I only click on three links for any one search. If I can’t find my answer after three clicks I probably need to refine my search.

3) Be aware of what you are researching. I made a list of what I need to know so I don’t click on something just because it looks interesting. If I want to look at it later I bookmark it but don’t read it right then.

4) Keep the character in mind. I might find something interesting to me but is it important to my character? If the answer is no then I move on.

5) Do you need more than a tidbit? It may be interesting to learn about the history of the Roman Empire but maybe all I need is the name of one emperor. I try to pick out the one fact and resist the pull of the whole story.

6) Copy and paste. Researching is like picking apples off of trees. I might glance at the apple as I grab it to make sure it’s not rotten but I wouldn’t decide which are pie apples and which are cider apples. I just pick the apples and put them in the basket. During my research I try to not examine any information too carefully. I just bookmark the site or copy and paste the information into a Word document. I can then comb through it later and figure out where the information goes in my story.

With this list I should be able to finish my research in a timely manner and get back to increasing my word count. It would be nice to find a balance because all research does not make Jennifer a published author.

“Research is creating new knowledge.” – Neil Armstrong