Research to support your writing
January 25, 2011
By Justyn Rowe
One of the greatest gifts I have been given has been an ear bashing about the importance of research. As a young writer I was certain I had the talent required to pull any story, fact or fiction, from the recesses of my own mind and in a great disgorging of last minute genius, turn out a memorable article or story that would win me accolades. Well, I did say I was young. The reality of course is that anyone ‘well read’ can spot a shallow flash-in-the-pan like that a mile away. With that warning in mind, here are a few research tips that will invigorate you and your work with genuine knowledge and confidence before you even open a new page.
Research informs your choice of vocabulary, sparks serendipitous insights and adds depth that will widen your appeal to readers.
Here are my five top tips to deepening your knowledge.
- Firstly, when visiting your local library, yes we still have them, see what else is in the physical vicinity of the topic you are after can uncover exciting new directions.
- Secondly, library will also have periodicals, journals, manuals, newspapers and audio recordings on an astonishing array of related topics.
- Then look for historical books or documentaries to get the feel of the subject and develop the mood or mind-set required to make your writing flow naturally around the topic.
- Take a wander to the nearest bookstore and browse through other writing on your topic – you may be equally surprised by what has already been said and by the originality of your own thoughts.
- Finally, the internet. Last because it can be used to tie the rest of your research together. What I mean is that ‘the web’ is such a vast source of information that you may easily become lost or side tracked in following a thread of links that only serve to bog you down. Try using it after you have already found some good questions to ask and your searching will take you much further and be less of a time waster as your deadline approaches. You can repeat the first four points on-line in fact. In particular, search for a glossary of terms in your subject area. In it will be an amazing collection of relevant words you can seed into your piece.
From this point you can begin to write with some semblance of understanding that will shine through your ideas and bring the world of your subject to the reader in a new and invigorating way. That is what writers do.
Whatever the source you choose, be sure to keep asking questions that try to capture the essence of your subject. In this way you will grow your knowledge and vicarious experience in ways that will continue to inform and inspire you throughout your journey as a writer.