Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In (re)search of an answer

Marie blogged the other day about research. It was a great post but I'd still like to know more about other peoples methods. Do you, or don't you? What does it depend on? Where do you do it? How do you start and more importantly, how do you stop?

My reasons for asking are simple - I spend way too much time researching and use very little of the information that I gather. I love research, I'll research anything and everything, storing these little gems of information to deliver to the unexpecting eaters at the dinner table.

It's a disease, I've realised, I can't stop. At the moment I'm looking up the Mayan calender (complete gobbledegook btw - haven't got me head around it yet!), but did you know how many other calenders have been invented? No, neither do I because I got completely distracted by 'Trepanning' - the art of boring holes in the head and then a neat little crystal was often popped into the gaping wound - fascinating . Then I was on to Pok-a-tok, a nasty little ball game involving blood and other wet parts of the body, where the losers were likely to lose more than the game! Did you know that the Mayans also believed in extra-terrestrials?

Yes, I know, discipline. If I had some in this department I would use it. I have no problem setting aside a block of time to write but can be distracted by the tiniest, juiciest tidbit of information which will lose me hours and hours of precious chaptering. How do I stop???

13 comments:

Verilion said...

Don't stop, it's all good fun and adds up to something that will enrich your writing later.

Clare said...

That's just what I was going to say, Verilion!

That trepanning nugget sounds just the thing for the dinner table, and that Mayan calender sounds fascinating. Thanks Minx, just off to Wikipedia now - I may be some time.

skint writer said...

researching on the internet or books and stuff is all good of course but the only way to write is from life - so go for a walk to the corner shop or whatever and then come back and write . . . (before you imbibe the stuff you bought in the shop)

equiano said...

I don't think you can stop, and frankly why should you?! Some of the most fascinating and wonderful things I have learned came from footnotes in some deadly tome in which I was researching an entirely different subject. Think how much joy it brings you - do you really want to give that up? I don't, but then I am also constantly distracted by all the extra tidbits and have the same problem putting the actual writing in, so don't mind me...

Minx said...

Oh dear, this sounds like licence to carry on, and Clare, I already spend enough time on the wikiwikiwhatnot - a bible of sorts!!

Thanks for popping in Equiano - I find joy in a dictionary of quotations - and no I don't really want to give it up.

Skint, not sure there are any Mayan tribes hanging around in Cornwall - plenty of beads and feathers at present but no 'head holes' and the like.

Just worked out btw, that the Mayans, clever little buggers, had three calenders, all running at the same time. Covered all Gods and eventualities I suppose.

Now where was I?

Brandon said...

I don't actually research for the purpose of research. I look things up when I want to know about that specific thing, but I'm always absorbing what I hear as bits and pieces of others' conversations, on the radio, or on the television. I see little things in what I read that give me things to write about. The only way I know to tell you to keep your concentration, is to make a conscious decision that when you are writing, you can't go wandering for new tidbits. I do agree though, that you must be a bank of great comparisons to obscure little facts by now. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my tale. I really like it when new people let me know what they think.

Atyllah said...

I echo what Verilion says. All the stuff we gather on our researches composts away in our brain and turns up later as some great idea. Besides, the researching is like journeying and journeying is what creates and weaves experience and story.

Minx said...

Yes, well, observation is another bucket of frogs completely. Today I was held hostage by the the SIL's (smother-in-law) scaffold- like undergarments- they were drying in her bathroom. Didn't know that they made corsets out of galvanised lead, but there you go. A basis for another poem, no doubt!

Marie said...

Sometimes I wonder if I actually prefer doing the research than actually writing. At the moment I'm researching Mary Shelley and it's fascinating stuff, believe me.

Minx said...

I do believe you Marie. I think what Skint says is absolutely true. You have to write from your life experiences, otherwise you would have no authority in your writing. Research can only enrich this, by adding to the compost heap!

Marie said...

Totally agree!

Gabriele C. said...

I read way too many history books. And then I get plotbunnies. And read more history books to fence those bunnies in. And visit some historical sites. And get more plotbunnies .... The six ongoing novel projects are only the ones I really work on right now, there's more in my files. :)

Minx said...

Hmmm, they 'breed like bunnies' obviously - no hope then for me, none at all!