Writing and research go hand-in-hand. You really can’t do one well without the other. All writing, whether you’re writing articles, blogs, or novels, requires a measure of research to provide realism and improve your story-telling.
I love and hate research in equal measure. It’s easy to get caught up in research. When I need information or fact-checking, I can find myself scouring the Internet for hours at a time. The issue is finding appropriate research-worthy websites or databases. Even worse, too many websites contradict each other and so then it can become a battle to find a tie-breaker or a more reliable source.
So what do I do and where do I go for research?
Google is my best friend. It will always be my best friend. You can Google anything and everything. The issue with Google is that it’s up to you to ensure you find the best websites. No one else can fact-check or approve of the websites you find. This can mean a lot of digging.
Wikipedia is another great start. No, Wikipedia is not considered a valid source of information in the academic world, but it can be a great place to find more legitimate information. A lot of times I’ll hit Wiki first and see what other websites, articles, or news stories are referenced and then I can dig in from there.
Never forget the value of a good book. I’m a writer, of course I’m going to recommend using books in research. A quick trip to Amazon and then a topic search can provide a plethora of information that you didn’t even know you were looking for. I particularly love books because I can have one open on the desk beside me while I research, which is a big help.
I’m all for winging it at times, but that’s not always the answer. Don’t underestimate the power of research. In the end, research might feel like a time-suck, but it will more than pay for itself. Your writing will be more cohesive, interesting, and focused.