I’m now in my final year of university, and I’ve chosen write and research the beginning of a novel for my dissertation project. It’s so nerve-wracking but also exciting! This was the reason I chose to come to university in the first place, to get my novel onto paper and to get it the best it can be.
However, one of my problems with the writing process has often been with research, which I was scared would set me back. I used to hate it. When enthusiasm flowed through me, I never wanted to interrupt my writing time with boooooring research. I’ve often heard the phrase ‘Write what you know’ and I think I took it quite literally, too literally. One of my problems has been that I only stick to writing things I’m familiar with and don’t tend to stray into new areas, and if I do write about new topics, I never have enough adequate research. For example, last year I tried to write a short story about a sailor and a mermaid and I knew so little about ships and boats that the story didn’t hold up well at all.
My unwillingness to research has limited me as a writer, but not anymore!
As a part of my novel project, I need to make something known as a planning folder, a place for all of my research. I’ll get marks for showing how my story has developed and how deeply I’ve researched. As necessity called, I begrudgingly started to spend a few moments a day doing novel research – and to my surprise, enjoying it!
What I didn’t realise was that research doesn’t have to be pages and pages of boring text, it can be anything – plot timelines, character studies, sketches. Picture collages are super fun to make and are really helpful at inspiring the visual side of a story. I’ve recently enjoyed keeping note of what’s inspired me to see if I can find a pattern. Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve been getting a lot more ideas for my novel.
Someone who is also doing this dissertation project is Rhian, my housemate and best friend. She has a fab blog, which I highly recommend. For the past couple of weeks, she’s been sitting at our table in the lounge and scrapbooking her novel research. I’ve seen how invested she’s become in the project and how much enjoyment she’s got from it, and its rubbed off on me. It motivates me to do it too. Instead of physical scrapbooking, I’ve decided to make my planning folder on a word document just as a personal preference. I have my laptop with me most of the time, so if an idea hits it can go straight in there. But that doesn’t mean I’m not making it my own, I’m doing all I can to avoid the bland first conception of “research” I had.
One of the main reasons I’m writing this post is because I feel like I’ve overcome a large writing obstacle. This planning folder is giving me something to be proud of, reminding me of all the work I’m doing for my novel and the amount of time I’m investing in its creation. It’s really motivating! If anything can be gained from this post, I hope it’s your consideration to have a go at this if you’re a writer. Research can be fun, trust me on this one!
Happy planning 🙂