Writers who don’t like research hope they won’t have to start. They can’t finish drafting because they don’t have everything they need.
Paradoxically, the solution is the same for both types.
Stuck in the Research
Some of my students and clients tell me they get stuck in the research because they love it and don’t want to stop. I gently tell them they may be stuck not only because they love it, but because they’re resisting the next step in the creative process, which is Incubation. (Stages of the creative process are described in Chapter 4 of AWB.)
To enter Incubation, you have to embrace uncertainty. You have to accept that even though you have all that information you gathered, you don’t know how it all fits together. Incubation is uncomfortable for everyone, but it can be excruciating for writers who like research.
You have to know when to push yourself from doing what you know how to do – collecting puzzle pieces – and start doing what you don’t know how to do – figuring out how the pieces fit together.
Stuck Avoiding Research
Research is gathering puzzle pieces; drafting, which most research-resistant writers love, is putting the pieces together. How can we expect to put the puzzle together if we haven’t gathered enough pieces?
You might think you can get away with minimal research if you’re writing poetry or memoir. After all, poem doesn’t require the months of research a nonfiction book will. And who’s an expert on your life if not you?
It’s true that different genres require different types of information and different research approaches, but every writer must do some research, regardless of genre.
When I was young, I thought I wasn’t interested in writing nonfiction because I didn’t want to do all the research. Ironic isn’t it that I’ve published two nonfiction books and the majority of my shorter pub credits are nonfiction?
Back in the day, I thought I’d write fiction where I could make everything up. But of course, good fiction requires all kinds of research.
So I thought I’d write fantasy and science fiction so I could really make it all up. But fantasy and science fiction require even more research.
It can look like we’re stuck in the drafting phase. Truth is, we have no business being in the drafting phase until we do more research.
Want to Get Unstuck?
Whether you’re a research-loving or research-resistant writer, you’ll find a solution that gets you out of resistance and back into motion in our next post.