Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stop Researching and Start Writing

How to Know When to Stop Preparing and Just Do It

I recently quit my job. Just last month. I was the marketing assistant for a one-woman office. The job was okay, but the boss was NOT. Five weeks was all I could handle.

You want me to write a blog post for you? Sure! Not so fast, Christie. Little did I know she would be worse than a flock of mosquitos at the Bayou in summer, waiting to pounce on the first sight of human flesh at the break of day. She definitely wins the "Worst Boss Ever" award.

"No, you can't use the word cleanse! That's a gypsy word. You have to use the word clear. Never cleanse." My, oh, my. And that was seriously just the beginning.

STOP Researching & START Writing || How to know when to stop preparing and just do it, when to start writing, when to stop writing, when to begin research, how to know when you're finished researching

Stop Learning and Start Doing

But today, we're talking about a different kind of beginning. How to know when to stop researching and when to start writing. Or in my case, how to stop taking a hit and learn when to duck!

I have to admit that part of this analogy actually comes from the business/education world(s). They say, "Stop learning and start doing." People who want to start their own business are "all in" when it comes to the learning aspect. They (myself included) can become caught up in the learning mode and keep learning and learning and learning. It's easy to let research become your crutch to not face the fear of action. Research can become a form of procrastination.

Modes of Research

While you might not be conducting formal research for a term paper, both fiction and nonfiction require a certain amount of research. Every project is different. There's research for how to write, research for how other writers accomplish the craft, and research for the minute details you'll include.

Maybe you're researching setting, a time period, types of characters, a particular career, details of a certain person (biographies), or anything else you need to know. Here are some popular modes of research.

  • Reading. Perhaps you are studying the nuances of your favorite authors. Reading is a great way to do this. 
  • Travel. Maybe you need to travel to learn more about a setting, or to research a particular document held in a certain locale. Travel is a great way to feel more connected to those details.
  • Interviews. Interviewing the experts in the topic you need help with is an easy way to get inside the mind of a certain character, or simply to learn information in a more accessible way.
  • Studying. This likely involves reading, but it's more intense than a pleasurable novel. This includes books about how to write, in all the different varieties. It also includes blog articles about anything you need to know to get the job done.

Start Writing

So, how do you know that you have enough material for your book? What if you miss an important detail? Here's the thing. Once you have enough information to fill in the gap for why you're researching, you can go ahead and write that part, whether it be a character, the setting, a few details about a trip to the zoo, or something else. But if it's overall research you're doing, you'll probably be in research mode for a bit longer. Like if you're writing a biography. Either way, when you're able to explain what you're researching without your notes, then you're ready to start writing.

Sometimes quitting is a bad thing. Like when you're running a race and you're tired. Your lungs are burning and your legs and feet ache, but you want to cross the finish line, so you refuse to quit. But sometimes quitting is a good thing. Like when your boss is a Voodoo Lady. Or like when you want to give up binge-watching TV. Or when you have enough research to start your business or write your book. It's time to stop learning and start doing.

For some more tips on how to start writing your novel, you can read: The Only 5 Plot Points You Need to Start Writing a Novel, The Shape of a Story, or Outline Your Story in Less than a Month.

What project are you working on right now? What did you need to research? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...



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