research

Before we begin, practice healthy creative habits: Clear your space of clutter, set aside some time to focus and spend 2-3 minutes doing your Daily Free Writing before you begin. See Lesson 2 for more about DFW.

A lot of you did get your outlines to me and I am really impressed! I love seeing your projects take shape and I’m really happy that folks are putting my advice into action. It’s going to feel so great to have a finished outline at the end of the month and to get started writing! Just 250 words a day or so and you should be done with your book in a year. 500 words a day and you can finish in six months. 2,000 words a day and you’ll be done in six weeks. It all depends on how fast you prefer to write, but the key is moving forward, little by little, every day. Finishing your book can happen by this time next year. For all of us.

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Okay so let’s keep going. We’ve got our outline loosely mapped out, the major themes established and individual chapter break downs. If we go back to the painting metaphor, we’ve laid down our rough sketch, we’ve blocked out shapes and we’re starting to add in details. It’s time to put down the big broad brush and get out our baby fine tools, to start working in detail.

Where to start?

Research!

You can only bluster your way through a book so far, but to get that really rich and layered story we want, we need to come up with ways to go a little deeper. I’ve been talking about research since the beginning, so today we’re going to crack open Trello, take a look at our boards and open the one labeled “research”. You are going to go through your outline today and make a list of every research opportunity you have (with the chapter number). Here are some ideas:

-If you mention a town, research the history of that town. (Or country or region etc…)
-If your character likes something, make them an expert (which means learning a lot about that subject).
-If there’s any historical events mentioned in your book, even as backstory, research them. Get specific. Don’t put “WWII” but instead put, “Jewish refugees in Russia”.
-If you present something as a fact, “Mediation is good for you,” find the proof and latest studies (PubMed is a great online resource for this).
-If your character is reading a book, what book is it?
-If you’re making a point by telling your experience, also interview experts.
-In fact: WHO CAN YOU INTERVIEW? Pick three people at least (if you can’t think of any, list their profession or expertise and fill that in later). You may not use the interview directly but if you’re writing about say, childhood trauma that happened to you, talk to an expert on that to get a handle on their perspective so it informs your writing.
-If they sail a boat, research the names of boat parts and the terms used.
-If they eat something, research foods that are appropriate
-If you’re doing a non-fiction how-to book, you should have case studies, research studies, expert quotes, interviews and more… make an exhaustive list with at least two items PER CHAPTER. You won’t use them all, but you should over-research.

Are you feeling it? If you say something is true, research it. If you explain something, research it. If you describe something, research it. FACT CHECK YOUR BOOK before you even write it.

This is huge. Your main task is to put that all together now. You do not have to research everything today, or even before the end of the month, but try to do some of it, if you can. These little details will be so important to your book later on and may lead to some unexpected turns in the story or direction of your book. Embrace the research!

1Daily Free Writing
2Complete your research to-do list in Trello (or use the software of your choice - pen and paper work too.)

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