Anything But Writing

The importance of maintaining focus on actually writing.

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It’s hard, writing the next piece of text, isn’t it? What should I create? How do I make it realistic? I need the setting to be hyper-accurate, and what precisely would a 17th Century lute player to the Duke of Devonshire say when he encounters a startled badger in the local village? “Cor blimey!” probably wouldn’t cut it, and I want to go for historical accuracy. Entirely understandable.

But there is something to be said for spending too much time on research. I knew someone—a person I continue to like and respect to this day—who spent a solid six months immersed in the research of their particular niche, intending to use all of this fascinating information in the book (the saga) they were crafting as a result.

But the book became too heavy, weighted down under the minutiae of their towering pile of information. The draft they were working on quickly transformed from the planned immersive experience into an overwhelming drone of exposition; think Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native on acid. Entire chapters went by just setting the scene and the facts without any contribution to the plot, the characters, or the readers.

It was terrible to see, because the writer became stymied by the immersive research they had enjoyed doing. Research can indeed be fun, but so should the writing. If it’s no longer fun, and you’d rather replace the actual productivity with more research, then examine your own ambitions about the book and your writing career. Are you avoiding it for a particular reason, or are you finding the research better than the idea of the story?

What I’m not saying is that you shouldn’t research—of course you should, because you need to be accurate—but don’t allow it to overtake your writing. Your creation is the thing, and you should utterly savour that experience. Don’t confuse research for actual writing, but instead find a balance so you can get on with the thing that’s important: creating the story.

Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.

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