It’s my second day in a row drinking one of those Starbucks, maple pecan frappes. I’ve done about 3 hours of researching/Pinteresting (a very technical word!!) and was watching YouTube videos about green houses, aquaponics, and fish breeds when 100 ideas about fleshing out a particular story line hit me. That storyline is not particularly relevant to my story. The point is…
Coffee works in mysterious ways. There something magical about caffeine that jumps a brain into overdrive, clearing cobwebs where nothing but dust and headaches previously existed. It is a burst of electricity that must be exploited to increase both, productivity and creativity, and for some of us who are less fortunate, reduce sleep.
If coffee provides energy, then research provides two points of land that need connecting, if you want to call it that. A novel or storyline, depending on what phase you’re currently in on your project, is that bridge. How are you going to build it when you get writer’s block? With research.
Let me elaborate. Under the influence of coffee, I tend to do about twice the amount of reading that I do in a regular day, because I have more energy to burn, but also because I stay up later (I can’t sleep behind caffeine even HOURS later).
Does the thought of doing research sound awfully dreadful to you? No worries. You probably do research all the time without even noticing it. Have any hobbies you obsess over for hours at a time scrolling through hundreds of ideas on Pinterest? You’re doing research. Spent 5 hours on Facebook reading a highly interesting battle about the major differences between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z? You’re doing research. New knowledge presents itself to us in many ways. It’s not always important how you get the information. What is important is that you use it like putty to fill in the holes in your story and to inspire you.
To help you in the right direction, here are five things I do when research must be done!
Watch or rewatch a TV series or movie in the same genre as the book, blog post, or article you’re working on.
For example, if you’re writing a novel about zombies, try The Walking Dead or Zombieland. List details about the storyline, take note of character traits in relation to the problem that drives the story (aka, the zombies), think about the locations, the setups, how characters react to the circumstances, what you could change, what could be better, what could be worse. Question, question, question everything you see, hear, feel, and experience while watching the movie or TV show. If you want to take it further, literally take notes. I recommend stepping away from your keyboard for a little and write with a pen in a notebook. Sometimes you see different connections when you handwrite that you weren’t noticing before and that’s the whole point. To find a piece that will help you fill in a storyline or something to make a character more interesting and relatable. You can do that by stealing, tweaking, and turning around ideas that already exist to make them fit your already existing character, blog post, or even a poem, if that’s what you’re into, which I am.
Pick up a new hobby.
Sounds daunting, I know. You’re probably already very busy juggling 50 books in your head and have 100 posts in your draft section on your website, but, trust me, varying your routine can do wonders to inspire you. You also pick up new skills and learn things when you have hobbies. Nearly anything can be educational or useful to a writer, so don’t feel like any activity is frivolous. You never know when you’re going to write a book or blog post about someone who loves hang gliding while eating cheeseburgers in the summer. ??
Start a discussion
3. As I said, all research doesn’t have to come from books. Often, people say things all the time that inspires us, makes us remember a small detail that you might have loved from one of those old movies, or kicks your brain into overdrive and allows you to rework something you already had.
Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get down tonight.
4. Exercise can definitely help jumpstart the brain. You can even dance while you write, and with all of that extra energy from the coffee, who knows how much you can accomplish while you do this multitasking.