Feb 13, 2023
Last month, I wrote about finding your inspiration, but that can be difficult for some when they don't know how to do their research. So let's break research down a little, and for the sake of keeping this short, we'll use writing as an example. Remember, these can be modified to other creative outlets, just ask yourself what your theme is, and what it is you need to in order get to that so that you can then discover where to look for it.
How To Do Your Research
1. Know what you are looking to develop with your research.
Are you looking to develop your characters? Are you looking to develop the setting? Personally, I love the thesaurus series by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, but take a look at various character and setting development books and websites out there and find which ones work best for you. Don't forget that you can also expand your research by learning a little bit about the language and culture of the characters you are creating. If your characters are from a different country or time period, you could do some research on that as well (fashion, environment, diet, dialects, cultural norms, etc.) There are all kinds of resources out there now to connect you with people from around the world. Language exchange websites are also a great way to learn from people and to ensure better representation of your characters, all while giving back by allowing them to learn and practice their English. Looking for something different entirely? Reach out to libraries and museums, they're very passionate about helping you find the information you're looking for, and can either answer your questions or redirect you to the proper sources.
2. Remember to save the information!
I can't stress this enough. It's frustrating when you find information you want to use, tell yourself you'll remember, and then want to go back to clarify certain details only to forget where you'd gotten the information. It's also frustrating when you had information you wanted to include, but forgot to do so. If you're doing your research online, I suggest saving all of the information you find along the way in a labeled Google Doc or word processor, along with the URL of the page you obtained the information from. Don't just bookmark the links, the information may be moved, removed, you may forget exactly what you were looking for, or you could experience a technological mishap that erases your history and bookmarks from your browser. Better safe than sorry, as with your work; always back it up. If you're working with books in your personal collection, sticky tabs (the easily removable kind) are your best friend. It's also good practice to keep a notebook with the subject of your search as well as the books and pages where the information was found. If the book is borrowed, copy down the information and indicate the title, author of the book, and page number, along with who you borrowed it from or if it was from the library, which library that was.
3. Review what you have saved.
You never know when some previously discovered information might become handy again, whether or not you chose to use it the first time around. Take a look back at your notes whenever you're working on a project, they may just find a new way to inspire you!
So there it is my fellow creators, research is all about identifying your needs, locating sources that cater to those needs, and ensuring that you remember what you've learned so that you can apply it when the time comes. I hope this helped, stay tuned for the third and final part of this series where I'll try to break down how to find help and support to keep you and your creative projects flourishing.
P.S. Ramble and Write Magazine is launching a Q&A Section with Kimberly Harpe (owner and operator of Harpe Creative Mentoring and Coaching) this spring! Stay Tuned!