Friday, August 20, 2010

Taming the Beast of Non-fiction

Writing non-fiction – and to a lesser degree fiction – is like facing down a mighty beast, meeting with an agent, or chairing a meeting. Never show them you are afraid.

You have to tell yourself that you own your subject. You are a master of it and you belong in the ranks of the published.

Don’t let them see you flinch.

Don’t let them see you sweat.

Be confident.

Know your subject.

And face that beast knowing you have already conquered it.

Then crack your knuckles and begin.

Nothing will hold you down or hold you back if you are willing to put in a little hard work. Confidence comes with knowing your subject. Knowing your subject comes from research. Research requires hard work and perseverance.

But it’s worth it to tame the mighty beast.

Do you agree with this? How much research time do you put in before you write a non-fiction piece (including blog posts)? Do you research more than you technically need?

21 comments:

  1. I was going to say I don't write nonfiction, but you're right I do write blog posts.

    I like research, and can easily get caught up in it. I don't do too much for blog posts generally as they're mostly based on observations and questions.

    If I were writing/submitting a nonfiction piece, I'm afraid I'd over-research :)

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  2. I am nearly finished with a historical fiction... that has been tucked away while I play with the WIP I have going right now. It is about a family living during the American Revolution. The BEST part about writing this was/is the research involved. I really have to know my history of that time period in order for the story to even come close to making sense. I have spent as much time researching as writing. And even with my fiction WIP that I am on right now, I have really researched a lot of things on Medieval times, horses, armor... all in order to describe just what's going on. :)

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  3. i love, love, love research... because i LOVE learning!!! but i tend to get side-tracked (especially on wiki) and start clicking link after link and learning all kinds of irrelevant but interesting things... before i know it hours have passed- and not much work was done.

    honestly i don't research hardly at all on blogposts and i mostly just wing them in fifteen minutes or half an hour... but then mine aren't super informative like yours!

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  4. Taming the beast. Ahh yes. I have written a memoir and I write articles for magazines. I am as non-fiction as you get. I usually write personal pieces so no research is needed. But backing yourself is a HUGE issue. I am still learning. For blog posts, no, I just crank those babies out. My blog is where my heart is unedited and unrestrained :)

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  5. I do research. Can't say that I've timed it to know how much, but I do search for information that I think others will benefit from.

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  6. Jemi, yep, it's easy to get caught up in it. The best thing to do is over-research for non-fiction. That way you are fully informed.

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  7. Michelle, I have avoided writing historical fiction because of the amount of search that is necessary. There are so many details to find out! I admire anyone who writes it.

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  8. Aspiring, yep, that's my problem too. Research takes hours, days, weeks! But it's amazing some of things we learn through the process.

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  9. Tabitha, that's the smart way of doing it ;) But even with personal pieces, sometimes we have to do some research to refresh the memory of an event, feeling etc. BTW your blog posts don't look 'cranked out'. Nice work.

    Helen, definitely. I enjoy your informative posts :)

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  10. Hi Lynda...I research a lot for all the articles I write for two Indian newspapers and also for my Creative Writing classes. I think a thorough knowledge of the subject makes us confident. I can be accused of more research.

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  11. "Confidence comes with knowing your subject. Knowing your subject comes from research. Research requires hard work and perseverance."

    I believe this is something most wanna-be writers forget, but they should memorize it by heart, because you speak the truth, Lynda!

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  12. I keep doing research until I feel confident that I can write soemthing without having to refer back to what I found. But at the same time, I don't want to spend more than an hour if I can help it.

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  13. Rachna, that's fantastic. It's so important to have that thorough knowledge. And we can't over research (unless it starts to eat into our writing time)

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  14. Dezmond, research includes learning the craft of writing too -- which I think many new writers forget as well.

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  15. Amanda, yeah, time is an important factor to consider, weighed against how much research is required for a certain piece.

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  16. I tried non-fiction when I first started writing, but I gave it up because I hate research - I never feel like I've done enough, and I'm so anxious to get on to the actual writing that I can hardly sit still to resarch. But you're right, sometimes I do need to do some research for blog posts, but I doubt I ever do more than absolutely necessary.

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  17. Susan, yep, with most blog posts it's not that necessary :)

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  18. For the non-fiction I published last year, it was based on my story & work I already do so I didn't have to research. The project I'm working on now is going to require months of research ~ all worth it in the end!
    Thank you for such valuable info ~ I gave you an award (it came with rules but I didn't give it for the exposure/links, just to say thanks & let my followers know about you).

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  19. Dawn, that's a lot of research! It is worth it though. Thanks too for the award :)

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  20. Lynda, thank you for the wisdom and inspiration! I am fortunate that I enjoy the research. Typically, my curious nature ensures that I pursue things of interest and then a lightbulb comes on and I am inspired to write.

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  21. ArtsyCanvasGirl, welcome to my blog. It's a good thing to be able to enjoy the reseach we have to do sometimes. Gotta love that light bulb! :)

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.