What I want you to remember as Month 4 of this process ends, is that writing will require you to chase your imagination. It will require you honoring your intellectual curiosity, and be willing to have a certain amount of walking around (working) knowledge.
Now, what do I mean when I say walking around or working knowledge? This is a set of information that you have independent of other outside research or knowledge. These are just things you know because you have experience them, learned of them, or even went to school to learn. Since you know these things, research is not paramount to your writing–it is a back up!
Lydia King is a writer, and a doctor. When she wrote Opium and Absinthe, she had the medical knowledge to write about the pain her protag was experiencing and even the reason why. Yet, due to the setting of the story, she still had to research what would make the setting accurate! You cannot get away from research: it is only the amount that you must research!
Reading is the cheapest way to feed that working knowledge. Feed your head–keep reading. Your imagination will thank you.
Even the writer Tananarive Due said that sometimes, as a writer, that you must ‘make up’ what you need. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, yet, there are things that you must be mindful of.
A good rule of thumb as a writer is that if you have elements in your story that have a basis in your current reality (geography, specific people, certain lore, etc), you need to have a trusted site to reference. Here is where we get tp the meat of the matter: open sources vs. closed sources.
Open sources: this is software (or a cite) that everyone can see, anyone can modify and can share as they see fit. Since these sources are not regulated, they are not trusted. This is why Wikipedia is not a trusted source.
Closed sources: systems use code that is proprietary and kept secret to prevent its use by other entities. Traditionally, they are sold for a profit. Only the original authors of software can access, copy, and alter that software. These are articles are found on search engines (Google, Bing, etc).
What I want you to remember on your journey to writing is you always want to use a closed source because it will grant you accurate information. When you are constructing a world, you need accurate information. Once you have a foundation of information, you can augment as you see fit–but you need that foundation to be sure!
Research Tip #2: Bookmark your resource sites, It will save your heartache in the long run. You’re welcome.
When branching out into new genres, this is always going to require some work. However, but researching for a specific genre is another sort of work. This research allows you to see where it is your imagination may be naturally bent towards.
Anne Rice says it this way:
“Go to wear the joy is.”
In researching where your joy lies, it may take trial and error. It make take several changes for you to find your beat and bearings in it.
How you write for fiction isn’t the same as non-fiction.
How you write romances isn’t the same as how you write horror, fantasy or speculative fiction.
In finding your beat, you must know what the basic rules are in order to bend (or break) them to your liking.
In research, this includes writers groups and workshops. Research isn’t limited to Google, old wives tales and Reddit.
You’re a writer. By nature of profession, you get the freedom to change something and no one notice straight away. Use that to your advantage.