Research and preparation for the fiction writer


Notes and prep can get in the way...






The more notes you consult when you write, the more obstacles you put in the way of connecting with your

subconscious mind; and it's your subconscious mind you write with.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t make notes or do research. Do both, but keep it in proportion. The object of the exercise should be to unlock the potential of your subconscious, not block it off by thinking consciously about your work.
It's a bit like playing any sport - tennis for example. If you try to hit a tennis ball while thinking about it, chances are you won't do too good. To be good, you have to hit it without thinking about the action. With writing, it's similar. If you want to write well, don't think too much about your first draft. Let the words flow.
If your book needs a lot of research because, say, it’s a historical novel, do the research and make notes by all means, but resist the temptation to consult your notes frequently while you’re writing. Instead, write what comes naturally. Your research, if you’ve absorbed it, should emerge in your writing.
Afterwards, when you read through your first draft, by all means use your notes to add in extra detail. It’s perfectly acceptable, and perhaps even necessary, to edit at a more conscious level than the level at which you create.
In summary:
Read your notes;
Write from the unconscious mind while largely ignoring them;
The time to consult your notes is during the edit.
That’s not an absolute; it’s an ideal to be striven for, and will serve you well if you aim for it.
Follow this link and you'll find (if you scroll to the bottom of the page) a video giving you an insight into some of the research strategies I used for my novel Manchester Vice.


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Photo from Pixabay

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