When I write, I have no control over when I will need to research and when I’ll write-write-write. And if I need to search for detail, there’s no telling how long it’ll take. I’ve been known to spend a week–ten days–uncovering the information my story requires. I don’t know what it is until I find it. It’s like a Rubik’s cube–pieces pop into place when I have the right stuff.
Truth, I love research. I get lost in it. I read and read and read until I get a sense of the world that is that character, setting, time frame–whatever it is. I know when I’m done, but more importantly–I know when I’m not done. I just keep digging. And I love it. Why? Research:
- answers questions. I’m chatting with friends about global warming. We-all wonder–how much hotter is it today than it used to be. I jump on Google and find out–the Global surface temperature increased 0.74 degrees in the last hundred years. I read a bit further and find out it’s cooler today than two million years ago. We’re in an ice age. That’s confusing. I either keep reading or put it on my ‘todo’ list for later.
- gives me ‘insider knowledge’ about whatever I choose. When I’m visiting the Florida Everglades, it’s good to know crocodiles have been around over 200 million years. That means they aren’t likely to become extinct before my trip is over. I think about it and decide they do fit their environment pretty well, even if that ‘environment’ is disappearing.
- Puts me in the driver’s seat–I know stuff no one else does. Everyone has a friend whose debate technique is only one fact deep. When I throw detail at them, they don’t know what to do. (They either insult my lineage or make excuses.)
- ignites my imagination. I’m out there, exploring a world that fascinates me, not knowing what I’ll find, and suddenly one detail pushes my creativity one way or another. Something I’ve uncovered about a street or an artifact turns the story a direction I didn’t expect and the plot begins to rewrite itself. I love that! Well–I do love it if it’s early enough in the process. If it’s the eleventh hour, not so much–though I still go with it. You must, right?
- I love the high I get from learning new stuff, solving problems I didn’t think I could. It’s like nothing else in the world.
- the Maker Movement–do it yourself is back, big time. People all over the country are doing stuff themselves and exulting in the effort.
- MOOCs–Massive Open Online Courses–all the rage in education right now. They’re mostly free, provide lots of information, and are a great way to erase the digital divide–if we can get the information out there.
- Genius Hour–allowing workers/students 20% of the workweek/schoolday to do whatever creative endeavor they’d like. Google began it and education’s picking it up. I’m very excited about it.
How about you? What’s snagged your cerebral attention?
More on research:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.