When you research something, you make connections that inspire you with ideas for new writing. There are good ways to combine researching and writing, and there are bad ways. The worst way to research is to treat it like entertainment. Passive reading minimizes your writing productivity. You can spend hours reading, get no inspiration, and produce nothing.
You need to refine the process to maximize the benefits of both researching and writing.
When reading for ideas, you should be making notes. For the best notes, go for the big picture. How does the information you’re picking up fit with related topics? What sub-topic of your field is your reading concerned with and how can you relate it to other sub-topics? Find analogies, comparative methodologies, and anything else that broadens the scope of your research notes. Once you are able to see the big picture, you have enough to write an outline for your book or a series of articles.
Writing goes in the opposite direction. You start with the big picture as you create the outline for what you will write. Then, fill in points for each major item. If your research has been thorough, you should have no problem with this step.
Next, you write the first draft and write extensively under every heading. Unless you took a course of studies to learn your topic, more research will be indicated many times during this draft. That’s okay, but it’s not going to happen in the first draft. Leave notes along the way indicating research to be done and keep writing. The first draft of a book is the biggest part of the project. You don’t need to make it worse by adding research that can come later.
When your first draft is done, you revise, edit, and cut until you have a final draft. There are many reasons to revise. There are those notes for sections to be researched further. There will be awkward sentences, typos, run-on sentences, and other problems. If it’s one of your first books, there will also be changes in the quality of your writing as practice helps you improve. There will also be differences in your zest for writing from one day to the next; some days it will be full speed ahead and others it will feel more like slavery. Enthusiasm shows in your writing. You want to even that out.
One of the most important revisions is the delayed revision. That’s when you put the manuscript aside and work on something else for at least a day. Then, read it again and see what problems were hidden by your immersion in the project.
Maximize the Benefits of Your Research
I’ve been writing here mainly as if you’re working on a book, but the same applies to writing a series of articles. If you’re going to do either, why not do both? You won’t want the articles and book to be identical, but after writing one it will be much easier writing it all again from scratch based on the first outline. Assuming you find your topic really interesting, you will have continued to learn more about it and this will result in new work when you flip to the different length of writing.
Focus in Fiction
The same method could be used for fiction, except there’s a lot less to research. Let’s say you want your characters to develop a video game. You research and find that they will need a minimum of five million dollars and twenty employees who are highly computer literate. You have enough to write the first draft of the game development scenes but not enough to write the conversations. You will need more details and the research on that can wait for the revisions.
Once more, focus starts big and zooms in as the writing project moves forward.
I must zoom off to another writing project now. Thanks for dropping by.
Article by Ivan Izo.
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