This post is part of a 7-article series on the fears of writing. You can find all other articles here:
While I mulled over what to write for this last installment of my series on the 7 Deadly Fears of Writing after reading about them in Jurgen Wolff’s book, Your Writing Coach, Naomi Dunford posted a sentence that made me think.
She said, “People are inherently lazy and they don’t want to do their own research.”
This made me wonder; is the seventh deadly fear of writing a legitimate fear, or is it simply another excuse of laziness?
I’ve never viewed research as work. To me, research is a chance to broaden my knowledge. Some topics are harder than others, like writing about financial affairs, but I always end up learning something new. Sometimes I research topics I’m already familiar with to make sure my information is still up to date.
No matter what you are writing – a short story, a novel, or a web content article – research is important. Don’t fake knowledge you don’t have. Pulling a bunch of information out of thin air only makes you look bad. If you don’t know what you’re writing about, research the subject or admit to your audience that you lack knowledge.
A large part of writing involves building credibility. All too often, readers believe the written word without thinking critically on whether the information is true or valid.
You, as a writer, have a responsibility to put forth accurate information. Words are very powerful. What you say, no matter how insignificant it might seem to you, could have a huge impact on the reader. This is the reason authors write disclaimers for their novels.
If you’re writing about losing weight, exercising, or legal affairs, you don’t want to be held responsible for a reader misinterpreting your words – and possibly doing something very foolish based on what you wrote.
There are other reasons to research, especially when writing a novel or short story. Your facts regarding the time period, the location, and various other aspects of your characters’ lives should be accurate. A glaring mistake about culture or the description of a neighborhood ruins the story for readers. Worse, it can harm the suspension of belief so vital to a good novel.
For example, my roommate is an avid gun collector. Watching Saving Private Ryan with him involves his running commentary on how the M1 Garands don’t sound authentic. I have to agree. I’ve shot his M1, and it’s loud and intimidating. The sound reverberates off the desert mountains like thunder.
But when the M1s fire in the movie, they sound like little toy guns.
In his book “>Your Writing Coach, Jurgen Wolff talks about research as being overwhelming. It’s easy to see how the situation could evolve into a fear. People often stop working on a project (or don’t even bother to start) because they feel overwhelmed with everything that has to be done.
Outsmart yourself. Break the project down into manageable chunks. Make a list of what needs doing, and then figure out a plan of attack that proceeds in steps – one after the other.
Start with the biggest aspect of the project that you can determine. Pick that apart and keep breaking it down until you feel comfortable with each step or chunk that you have to work on. Set up a time table for each goal – and stick to your schedule.
Your project flows smoothly towards full completion, and you gain a greater sense of accomplishment with each step completed.
I hope this series on the 7 Deadly Fears of Writing has helped. My own explorations while writing these posts revealed much to me about my own writing and work habits. Taking a look at each fear and thinking them over made me wonder why I had those fears in the first place.
In case you missed any of the posts in the series, here they are again:
..and of course, today’s post on Research.
The greatest fear is the fear of the unknown. Once you understand why you fear the way you do, you take the first steps towards understanding yourself to make changes for the better.