In college, research papers would make my stomach churn. It felt like a daunting task that hovered over the fun of learning something new. As important as research is when writing a novel, I have learned that I can approach it in a way that makes it more fun and engaging.
If you use your time wisely, these 5 research methods will not only amp up your writing, but they will also give you the double dose of inspiration you need to get working.
In this digital age, it’s easy to get lost scrolling through timelines, browsing over newsfeeds, and watching videos. Before you know it, an inordinate amount of time has been wasted with nothing to show for it. Instead use the internet including social media to your advantage.
-Scroll through Facebook groups that focus on your genre, subject matter, or setting
-Check out Instagram profiles for character inspiration
-Create Pinterest boards for your project
-Poll your peers and readers to get their perspective
-Watch YouTube vloggers whose chronicles are relevant to your book
-Surf blogs with helpful information
You have so many fun resources at your disposal, just focus your offhand surfing to something more productive.
Take a Vacation
This option maybe limited at the time being, but nothing helps a writer more than being in the atmosphere you are trying to describe.
-A trip the mall for a busy, bustling atmosphere
-A trip the lake for a peaceful view of the water and the sounds of nature
-Walk downtown with a friend, or even a walk through the neighborhood
-Museums, amusement parks, beaches
If you can’t travel, find a way to engage your senses. As a back-up, see if you can take virtual tours of any locations you’re unable to reach.
Read a Good Book
Yes, research takes even more reading than you probably already do. Fret not! You don’t always have to dive into a boring book with technical jargon you’re trying to understand. You can use some of your reading time to read fiction in your genre. It’s not just recreational reading if you’re using it to get a grasp of these questions and elements:
-style and dialogue
-what works and doesn’t work in your genre?
-how does the author use tropes?
-what plot points should you keep in mind?
-how does the author use conflict and is it effective?
You can cross a book off the list you’ve been wanting to read while simultaneously receive cues for your own novel. It’s a win-win.
Rent a Movie
That’s right. Select a movie that has an element you’d like to focus on in your writing. Films can help you get a grasp of time period, mythology, fantastical locations, professions, and characterizations. However, a film is not a substitute for factual research, but it does help you with visualization. Just be sure to fact-check your notes. In the meantime, grab a blanket and some hot-chocolate and get to watching!
Set Challenges-Get Rewards
If you’re goal oriented, now’s the time to put it into action. Challenge yourself to progress in your research by using these methods as well as formal ones. Give yourself some short-term goals as well as a couple long-term and reward yourself accordingly. We writers needs some incentives once in a while when we get stuck in the tedious isolation of writing. Some of your goals and rewards can look like this:
-Listen to an audio book, take a virtual tour, and complete a writing exercise this week to get Saturday off.
-Go out for dinner and dessert for every ten articles, two character sketches, and three videos watched.
-A quarter for every two pages of notes you take. Use the money for a treat.
If you make the process fun and challenging, you will be surprised at how much information you accumulate. And you can never have too much information.
Take the edge off by turning your research into recreation.
Leah Jordan Meahl writes fiction for the rooted and the wandering Christian to go deeper in their faith. She’s a born and bred Jesus-follower hailing from Greenville, South Carolina. She’s a lover of devotional writing as well as fiction. Her newest book Pebbles: 31 days of faith enriching parables released in September 2020. Check out her books for family and friends this holiday season on her website.