Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are You Ready to Go the Distance? - Writing Workshop Series


Are You Ready to Go the Distance?

It has been several weeks since I last wrote, but I have not given up. As I thought about what to say today, the word Perseverance came to mind. The meaning of the word is having a "steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success." What does that really say to you and I about our writing?

Many have this romantic idea about writing. Maybe you were like me and loved the movie series, "Murder She Wrote" about a school teacher turned mystery writer. Her rise to fame was quick and it took her to one location around the world after another. We never say save for a few episodes where she seemed to be having some writers blocks. In fact most of the time it seemed as if her books were developing, writing and publishing themselves.

If life were only like this, however it is not. So for the average writer you will have to be willing to move along step by step  striving to make it to that place where your work is produced. The chances of getting your work published by the traditional publishers are slim at best. So what is a writer to do? I would simply say this, if you believe your work it important then don't give up. Don't feel as if you are less than a writer if one of the well known publishing companies does not publish your book. In fact, if you really knew how many new authors that take each year, it would discourage anyone from being a writer. However, that is why self-publishing and assisted self-publishing has made such a big splash in the publishing world. You can even go to places like Amazon and use their publishing services.

I love the picture above of the snail. It said by perseverance the snail made it to the ark. Think about that for a moment. This snail had to have been willing to move along at his snail pace no matter what it came up against. And since they went in by two's that mean he had to be willing to help his partner kept on track as well. On this journey I think it is a great idea to get an accountability partner, someone that will walk along with you at the pace you are going to help you keep on track. They don't have to be writing as well, just someone you trust that will help keep you on the pace of you.

Maybe the snail say a faster moving animal come along and asked for a ride. Sometimes in this pursuit of reaching your place of safety (the place where you book is nurtured and published) you have to be willing to ask others for help. People you see getting to the destination a little faster than you. Maybe they have some suggestions, ideas or tools that can help you get to the location a little faster than you were going.

I have found it quite interesting that people don't like to ask for help. We have this unrealistic idea that the work in my head is perfect so I won't need any input or help to get if from my head to the finished work. I've seen work of people that thought that and I couldn't read what they wrote past the first few pages because it was so hard getting past the errors. If your work is important to you, be humble enough to receive all the help you can from others to help it make it to that place were it is ready for others.


The truth is, even the best writers, greatest inventors, or artist of any kind would tell you they had to edit their ideas several times before they got it to work. I like what the statements says in this picture, I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. If we take this type of attitude we are saying I know my work has merit and I know I will end up with a finished product. I simply must be willing to deal with the ideas that fail, the paragraphs that I must re-write because they really don't fit in with the idea I was trying to present. I have to pick a new cover, this one doesn't work. I have to scrap an entire section and start again. But in the end, it's worth it because I will accomplish my goal. 


I want to share a story. I may have already shared it, but it's worth sharing again. I finally got my books back from my publisher that closed. I thought I would be able to simply open up the file and make a few corrections and then quickly send it to be published. Every time I would try to make a correction, save it and then come back, it would be worst than before. Finally, it dawned on me that I was going to have to re-type both books. 

As I began to type I would have questions pop into my mind. I would say things like, I really want to make the page fancy. Or I want to have the chapter titles appear in the header. Or I want a special character or shape at the beginning of each chapter. As I was typing, I began playing around with the program and I began to come up with the ways to do what I wanted. In the end I realized I needed to take this slow and steady way because it allowed me to learn some things I would have missed had I tried the short cut way. Sometimes on your journey you may feel as if it is taking you too long to finish your project, or to get it to that place of publishing, however realize there is something you are learning in the process, something that will be vital for you later. In this instance, now when I am ready to publish, I will have several styles to present to my clients because I learned how to do them first hand.

So never give up, look up (for encouragement, guidance and assurance) but never give up. We are still working through the steps needed to get my publishing company going, we are moving slow and steady, but in the end we will accomplish what we started.

Until next time. Happy writing!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Are You Passionate About Your Writing? - Writing Workshop Series


Are You Passionate About Your Writing?

As some of you may know, I don't only talk about writing, but I write. I love to write. I do it all the time, some for publishing and some simply because I can. A few months ago I received a shock. The publisher of my first two books closed without any warning. Gone was my book, my royalties and all that I had invested. I was devastated to say the least. 

In the midst of my tears I remember something that God had shown me some time ago, in fact it had to be at least 10 years or so. He showed me Tri-Production (the name of this blog). He showed me that Tri-Production would be the company that handled my publishing, film making and creative endeavors, like my board game I created. However how many of us have grand dreams, but dismiss them as some fantasy that could never happen? That's exactly what I did, I dismissed it, sort of. Oh, I created the blog, but I never really knew what to do with it. I would write now and then, share my videos from the C.O.M.E. ministry, but that was as far as it went, until my publisher closed.

It was at that time that I realized I already had the answer to, "what am I going to do?" I am going to become even more passionate about what I was called to do and do it to the best of my ability. That day when I was reminded that I had the tools in my hand to accomplish my goal, I had a new passion, oh yeah, and a new fear.

 The new passion was a re-dedication to taking not only my writing more serious but the idea of publishing my work and the work of others. I had to begin to believe in myself, that was my fear. I wasn't sure, could I publish? Could I handle both ends; writing and publishing? Then I reminded myself, "I can do all things through Christ..." This effort was not going to be by my know-how but by using the wisdom of God to help me through. I began to seek help. I am working with some people that not only want to help me succeed, but are willing to invest in the vision God has on my life. How precious is that!


I can only image you reading this post and wondering what does any of this have to do with your passion for writing? I would say it has a lot to do with it, because we all face some obstacles that can stop us in our tracks and make us re-evaluate our decisions to be a writer. Maybe your distraction isn't a publisher leaving you, maybe it's not being able to find the motivation to write, or maybe it's the lack of funds, or the fear of can I really do this? Whatever the distraction may be, if we don't have a passion for what we do, writing will soon be a distant hobby or dream.

I am now preparing those two books I talked about to be republished. It took me some time to get my manuscript and information back, but I did. At first I simply tried to edit or reformat the file. However, I was having some difficulty doing that. Soon I realized I needed to re-type the entire manuscript. While that might seem like something bad, it wasn't. In the course of typing the manuscript I am learning some formatting tips that will help me create books that have a quality look. It is also giving me the opportunity to read my work. As I am reading it, I am discovering my desire growing with each page. I am falling in love with this book all over again. It has reminded me of why I write. It is not so I can have some fame or recognition, it is because I truly want to help and encourage others to learn to be their very best.

Part of being passionate about your writing, calls for you to be passionate about your words. I don't consider myself to be the best technical writer, I am more creative and colorful in my words, that's what a good friend tells me. She says I have "flowery words." Since I know this about myself I had to learn to be comfortable with others examining my work, dissecting it, questioning it and giving me the hard truth. That's called editing.

I have found this is an area that many are not comfortable with exploring. We hold our work dear to us, like our defenseless children. Therefore, who will allow someone to talk about, discuss or say anything negative about our children? Yet as dear as are work is, if we really cherish it, we need to have someone read our work. Otherwise, we may find our pages filled with words and thoughts that are lost on our readers. We don't want to make them have to read a sentence over 3 or 4 times because they didn't understand it. If they read it again, let it be because the thought was so inspiring that they wanted to impress it upon their memory.

If you are passionate about your writing, you will dedicate your time to doing it. Setting aside time to write; whether it's a book, poem, play or any other material, is necessary. If you have an idea but think your writing skills may be lacking, then take a basic course in English or Creative Writing to help you develop. I did my under Graduate, Graduate and now Doctoral courses online. That requires me to have to write all the time. This has really helped me learn how to develop my thoughts, present my information and stay on topic. It is so easy to go running from one idea to another, leaving your reader exhausted because they don't know where you are going. I remember a teacher in one of my classes said he didn't care what we thought, but what could we prove. That has always been something on my mind when I write.

I don't want to simply tell you what I think, I could be thinking wrongly. I want to research and find evidence either from other researchers or within the pages of the Bible on what I am speaking. If you are passionate about your work, you will make sure you check your facts. You want to be responsible because you understand words are powerful.

In closing, I want to encourage you from time to time to step back and think about why you are writing? What is your motivation? Is it because it looks like something fun to do and a way to make money or gain fame? Or is it because you believe you have a mission to accomplish, you have people that you can impact? If your goal for writing isn't steeped in a desire to make a difference; like giving someone some pleasure in a created world on the pages of your book, you may not continue the journey. Ignite your passion, dedicate yourself to what you have been called to do as it relates to your writing. And in the meantime, if you are looking for a publisher, keep your eye's open for Tri-Production's launch (expected in Mid-Summer, 2015).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Serving others through your writing - Writing Workshop Series


Serving others through your writing

I know this might be a strange topic for an aspiring writer, serving others. I know many, many years ago when I first thought of becoming a writer it was really all about what I wanted to write, how I could see it on television or made into movies. I saw myself on the top charts and best seller lists. I was so excited about that. So I set out to write what I thought would accomplish that goal. This was in 1990 when I began writing a book called "Star". It was about a woman that wanted to be a movie star and she was willing to do anything to get it. The more I wrote, the worse I felt about writing it. I kept pushing the thought away, but as I came to the last few chapters of the book, I could no longer push it off. Finally I asked the question, why is this book bothering me?

The answer I got was this, "Would you be proud to put your name on this book?" "What you are writing, will it make a positive impact on the lives of the readers?" and "What gift are you giving them with this book?" Well the be quite honest, it was not about the reader, it was about the writer, me! What I wanted was a book "I thought" would make me famous. 

What did I do with that book, you might ask? I deleted it right then and there. I asked God what do you want me to write. He gave me a complete series of books for youth (which are written, but not yet published). From that moment to now, I always ask myself these questions, "what gift am I giving to my readers" "How can this book positively impact the reader" and "am I proud to put my name on this book?"



 I have to be able to answer yes to all three questions, otherwise I am not writing the book. I have to have the end goal in mind as I write. If I am telling my life story, I don't want to give you all the details, if I am not also including the life lessons God allowed me to learn. The only reason for giving my story is not to make me look good, but to be a hand reaching back towards my brother or sister and helping them to climb higher. So while I still would love to make some movies (I call them now "Made for Church Movies"), see my books reach some high standards in the reading arena, I am content to make life impacts one at a time, even if it is a slower process. Hear me, I am not saying I don't want my books in more hands, I am simply stating I am not willing to compromise what I believe I need to write to make that happen.


I believe you must see your gift of writing as one given to you by God for the purpose of serving others. Think about the spiritual gifts God gives to His people. We have heard it preached enough to know the gifts are not FOR us, but they are to work THROUGH us, FOR others. I believe it is the same with our gift of writing. This ability to look at life and create poetry or words that inspire, challenge or even ignite passion is a godly gift. And with that gift we should willing be ready to use it to serve others.

Does this mean you don't want to make an income from your writing? I am not saying that, what I am saying is use this gift with care. Write what you would feel honored to put your name to. Are you writing to inspire others, challenge others, encourage others or even help others see their value and worth.

I guess part of the reason why I am writing this today is because I have read a lot of books of new writers. I believe they have a story to tell, but somewhere in the process they lost focus of the reader and the story become just about them. I have read stories where people simply told about their sexual activities, but never explained the reason why that was included. What did that add to the story? How was this going to help your reader? What was the reader to glean from this information? As writers we have one of the greatest tools in our hands, WORDS. When we use them correctly they can make a difference. So I encourage each of us to use our writing to serve those that will read our work. When it's all said and done, the greatest reward is knowing a life has been inspired, changed, encouraged or made whole because of the words on the pages of my book. Just my rambling thoughts today.

Tri-Production publishing company is in development. We seek your continued prayers as we prepare to launch our company in 2015 (if the Lord allows). Until next time, keep writing!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Encourage yourself - Writing Workshop Series


Encourage Yourself - Writing Workshop Series

Today's post will be a little different than the previous post. We have covered some of the technical aspects of being a writer, so today I want to shift to how to stay the course and not give up. No matter who you are as a writer, everyone gets discouraged or hits a wall and wonders what will they write or is their story really worth telling? 

What are some of the things that keep us from writing?

 ~Too busy: Your schedule just doesn't allow you to write as often as you would like. With work, family, church and any other activity you add to your list, writing begins to move further down the list of priorities. Sometimes when you finally get a chance to write to your surprise, months have gone by. When that happens it is difficult to pick up where you left off and you may feel your writing flow is gone.

How do you handle this all too real situation? Don't give up. Sometimes as a writer you will have uninterrupted times to write and at other times you may feel you never have the opportunity at all. One way to deal with this is to set an amount of pages to write for every time you do get a chance to write. If you only get 5 days out of the month set a 5 page limit,  and that will result in at least 25 pages written for that month. The great things is if you are able to write more than the 5 pages, keep going and let your creative juices flow.

I want to make a note here, this is a time just to write, not edit. If you edit at this time your page output will be a lot less. I find if I am able to write, I don't want to stop that flow, just let the ideas and creativity flow. Yes, it might not be grammatically correct. Your sentence structure may be off. The key for right now is idea transfer; from you to the paper. Just keep writing!

~You don't think your story/idea is good enough. If you wonder about your story/idea being good enough or concerned if anyone will read your work, you are not alone. Any writer would tell you they go through this from time to time; some more than others. Your ideas/stories are important to you therefore it is hard to be unemotional about whether others will accept them or not.

How do you handle this all too real situation? This is where your will have to learn to encourage yourself. I think this is the reason why it is important to write an initial story sheet. Your story sheet is in the sense your "resume" about your story. You begin by writing your title or potential title. Give an introduction. In your introduction give as much detail as you can to try and convey your story. Some things you should ensure are present are: What do you hope the outcome will be for those reading your story? How do you want what you are writing to impact your reader? What do I need to say and how will I say it? Then list the sections and/or chapters giving them a title, even if you change them later. This is helpful when writing because you can always go back to this story sheet to make sure you are not getting off track. Taking the time do to this work ahead of time will also help you to flesh out your ideas, which can help you to feel more confident about your work.

It is also important to remind yourself that you were made for a "God sized dream". If you know God has planted this story in your heart, make sure you tell it well. Don't get discouraged if it takes some time, know you are nurturing this God sized dream within you until it comes to completion. Too many times the discouragement comes because we have these ideas that we will whip up a story in a month or two, it will go to publisher within another month and by month three we will have a completed book in our hands. While this might happen (very unlikely however), you may not be too happy with your actual outcome. In fact, be ready to take some time. My first book took two years before I had the finished copy in my hand. After that it has moved quicker, but that took time and experience on my part. I still don't rush my stories. I feel what I have to say is so important that I want to make sure I develop it well. 


~ Just too tired! Boy do I understand this problem. You finally get all your other priorities done, now you can write. You think "YEAH." The only problem, you are too exhausted to write and you know anything your write now will be gibberish. So that simply adds to you feeling discouraged all over again. You begin to wonder and feel frustrated because you just can't seem to win when it comes to being able to write.


How do you handle this all too real situation? The truth is you will have to take your writing out of the optional things to do and make it a priority as well. It may take time for you to re-adjust your schedule but I believe if you feel you must write, they you will. I saw a video recently, actually I only heard it so not sure who the person was. The man on the video was talking about doing something you felt was important. He used the example of breathing. He said if you hold someone's head under the water what do they want? (My interpretation here) Do they want to know what's on television? Do they want to catch up on what's going on on Facebook or any other social media? What do they want? Very simple, they want to BREATH! When your writing becomes as important to you as breathing, you will then be able to handle these obstacles. If you are tired, you'll make sure you don't leave your writing until that time when you are ready to pass out. Instead you will make sure you set a time to write. That's what I do. I set my schedule weekly and put writing as a priority on that list. Do I do it every time, no, but every week I set it as a goal that I work towards. Little by little I am accomplishing my writing goals. In fact, I am at that place that if I don't write (something, even my blogs and post), I almost feel like I can't breath.


~ I may not ever be a famous, well-known writer, if so, is it worth making the effort? Sometimes when I talk to people about their writing this is a thought they have, that maybe they shouldn't write because they won't be famous. If your reason for writing is to be famous, then you are right, you shouldn't pursue being a writer. Being a writer isn't about being famous or popular, it's about having a passion to tell and share a story or something you believe will help others. Now hear me correctly, you do need to promote your work and you should desire that your work gets in as many hands as possible. Even with that, your main goal can't be I want to be famous. Your passion and goal has to be, I can help someone. When that is your goal, you will find what you reap is much richer. 


In essence what I am trying to convey is your dream is worth giving it life. If you find yourself getting discourage for any reason, try encouraging yourself by writing something just for you! Write yourself a love poem about why you have to write, about your passion. Then post it where you write so when you get discouraged you can remind yourself again why this is your life. Reward yourself when you accomplish your goals. Celebrate your achievements. Share your accomplishments with your "cheering team" those that are your encouragement. Set reachable goals, baby steps.For example, maybe you set your goal to complete 3 chapters in 2 months. Or maybe you set a goal to complete 25 pages in one month. Then set your schedule to allow you to write those 25 pages or those 3 chapters within 2 months. 

Whatever you do, make sure you invest in your dream and nurture it until it comes to fruition. Don't let the discouragement stop you. Keep something in your eyesight that reminds you of why you need to write. Yes I said need to write. If you were called to write if you don't do it, it will be like losing your breath. I simply want to encourage you today, BREATH!!!!!

For more information about publishing and promoting, keep checking back as we prepare to launch Tri-Productions Publishing. If you have any questions on how to get started e-mail us @ williamsinnovativenetwork@gmail.com 




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Networking - Writing Workshop Series

Networking ~ Writing Workshop Series

Our last entry addressed promoting your published book. The entry today continues with that theme, but we are dealing with networking with people from a slightly different perspective. I do not want to talk to you about networking simply to get your book in the hands of people, but from a perspective of increasing your knowledge, influence and reach far beyond your one book project.

Sometimes our scope can be limited by our view to get our one project in the hands of as many people as possible. This isn't a bad thing per say, however it can limit our reach if you are not careful. I'll try to explain my thinking with this example. Let's say I have published a children's book. I would generally begin looking for people or situations that would help me promote my book to my market for children. In doing so, sometimes we overlook people we meet because they are not meeting my needs right now. For example you meet someone that host events for authors that write self-help types of books. You think, that's not my book so I'll smile nicely but I don't need their information.

That's too bad you didn't take advantage of the opportunity, because this connection could have helped you in your networking abilities later. Let's say you meet someone that is looking for this same type of event later. Had you kept that information you could have become a resource for this new person, who might have been grateful and become a possible connection for you into their networking arena, that might contain people you do need.  What am I trying to say? While nothing is guaranteed, you never know how someone you meet will become a benefit to you or to someone else you meet, if not now, later.

In fact, one thing you will need to learn to do is to become a person that learns to network. Some people are better than others at that. I think my husband is the master of networking, in part, because his job requires him to continually be making connections. Sometimes he doesn't need what the person is offering, but on those occasions when need arises for that service, he is able to go back to some of those contacts and fulfill a need through his network.

Another great reason to network is these individuals also become resource providers for you. In their networks are people that may need what you have, but you wouldn't have a way in had it not been for the networking. Networking provides you resources, ideas, peer support and critique. 

Now let me address the bad side of networking. What's the bad side you may ask? People don't like to be used. Therefore do not see people as only a means to get what you want. People don't want to join your FB page or your Linkedin network if every post or request is, "give me something!" What are you giving? Make sure you have support, encouragement and resources to share with others. This then becomes a "relationship". People even in business and networking are more likely to help someone they feel a connection to or they feel respected and honored by. So don't do yourself a disservice by begging for sales without stopping to see what the other person has brought to the table.

In networking you also are blessed to gain professional resources that you may not get any other way. For example if you desire to host an event you might be surprised how many people you know that are able to do so, or have done events, like parties etc. You have to be willing to ask around and seek help. When my sixteen year old daughter wanted to do a big sweet sixteen party, I had a limited budget and needed someone to help me get that moving. I didn't have the time to do the leg work or run around to get it done. I was able to find a person in my network, ZDL Event Planning that helped me do that. The event was very inexpensive, however it didn't look cheap and my daughter enjoyed herself. 



When I finish all the preparation work and launch Tri-Productions Publishing, I will utilize this individual to help me prepare a launch party. Also, as I am preparing my company, Tri-Productions to go live I realize I need help in some areas I have never done before. After searching around I found some individuals in my network that were willing to invest in helping me (for FREE). What I offer to them is support and help to get in shape. Sometimes when we network we find we have things we can exchange. So in this instance we are helping each other out.

What's the goal? Your goal is to impact as many people as you can with your work. In the process you will develop some relationships along the way that may not benefit your current project, but may be beneficial in upcoming projects. For more information about publishing and promoting, keep checking back as we prepare to launch Tri-Productions Publishing. If you have questions on how to get started, e-mail us @ williamsinnovativenetwork@gmail.com, Happy Writing!!!!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Who will hear your story? - Writing Workshop Series


Promoting your book - Who will hear my story?

We talked about developing the story, researching and the process for getting your book ready for publishing. Let's jump to the end, once your book is published. What do you do now, how do you get your story out? Who will hear your story? Truthfully you don't want to wait until you have your book in your hand before you begin to promote it. You want to begin promoting it once you know it is in the publishing process.

Promoting your book was once left to the publisher, but with the move from traditional publishers to Print On Demand (POD) and self-publishing/semi self-publishing options this isn't always the case. You know you have a story, but how do you figure out who to share it with and how do you accomplish the task. This is difficult and will take some effort on your part. I don't claim to be the master on promotion but I will share what I've seen work (some do this better than others).


Some individuals have sought to have book signings in their local bookstores. You may be able to leverage the fact that you are a published author living in the community. Talk to your bookstore owner to see if they will allow you to do a book signing and/or place a few books in their stores. Even if the answer is no, you are still a winner because you are taking the time to network and you never know what you might find out. For example there may be a book fair that you might find out about because of your networking. Book fairs/reader fairs are great because you can pay a fee to share your books and have exposure to potential customers.

That's why it's important for you to take the time to investigate any upcoming book fairs and/or events in your local area. Find out if they have booths you can rent to share your books. the key is to make sure your book fits in with the fair. You wouldn't try to sell a cookbook at a children's book fair, unless it is a cookbook for kids or aimed at helping busy moms make healthy meals in less time. So make sure to position your book in places that fit with your work. Look for non-traditional ways of promoting your book. For example maybe someone is having an event to mentor young girls, if your book is targeted for teen girls, see if you can be a sponsor and have your information available on the fliers, etc. as well as there at the event. If you can't afford to be a sponsor give a book or two to the group to raffle off. Think outside the box! 


Use testimonies to promote your book. Maybe before the book comes out you have a group read it and write reviews for you. You can use these reviews to put on your website or FB page. I copy and past customers testimonies to my Williams Innovative Network website author's page. When I wrote my first book, I made videos of the girls talking about their favorite parts of the book. You can use those to promote the book. Also give people your information and ask them to send you an e-mail once they've read the book. I've taken those e-mails and put them on my website, Facebook page and other social media locations.

Social media is also a place that can be used to promote your book. Create a Facebook page related to your book or writing information. Now please don't use the page just to run sales ads and ask people to buy your book, you'll soon lose followers that way. Make your posts relevant to your book. For example if your book is about healthy living, then post status that talk about eating better, or exercising. Then you can ask for the sale, but you have to give something to get. Whatever you use, make sure you are building relationships first. I know many don't like to be befriended today and minutes later you're asking them to by your book, maybe you could say hello first. You know what that feels like, like you only want them to buy something from you and that can turn people off. Give something away first (advice, tips, etc.) and then ask for the sale.

Something else you can do is have a launch party. It doesn't have to be expensive. Find a coffee shop, or neighborhood spot that might allow you to take a corner to have people stop by to get a book signed. Or you can rent a venue (your neighborhood YMCA or Park District spaces). Have light refreshments and you can even have a reading.

I preach so I often ask churches and individuals that ask me to preach if I can bring my books. I generally sale out all the books I bring. I also make it easy and convenient for my customers. I have a Square store so that my customers can use their credit cards. You can get a square or one of the devices that allow you to take credit cards so that you can have a portable store. Another thing you can do is write a blog and/or articles that allow you to promote your book. 

The key is to be creative in whatever you chose to use to promote your book. Some things will work, some things won't. However you'll never know until you try them. What did or didn't work for someone else doesn't mean the same success or failure for you. The key is to keep at it, don't give up.

For more information about publishing and promoting, keep checking back as we prepare to launch Tri-Productions Publishing. If you have questions on how to get started e-mail us @ williamsinnovativenetwork@gmail.com 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Research behind the Story - Writing Workshop Series


The Research Behind the Story - Writing Workshop Series

Today I want to talk to you about something many do not like, RESEARCH. Maybe this is on my mind because I am in the process of doing research for one of my doctoral projects on Integral Research. Research can be intimidating to some and down right scary to others. For some, it might even be a breeze. Where ever you stand as it relates to research, it is something that is key for the writer. Research is a serious examination of information in  order to test a theory or idea. It is a study of new ideas, thoughts or assumptions to see if they are valid. You find this out through your research. This is the process of a writer to study new ideas and thoughts, to do a serious examination of the information available to see if the idea or theory is accurate. In this case the idea is your story plot or line.

Why do you need to do research? You need to do research as a writer for many reasons. Let's go through a few of those reasons. One reason is to find out if your story or a story like yours has been told and how. If you are writing a book about doves, for example, you would want to find how others addressed this story. What new information have you discovered from what others have written? What information is repeated again and again? While this may not seem important it is vital. You want to make sure your story is accurate and that the claims you make are supported with research. 

A second reason to do research is to learn new information. When I began to write my book, I Soar: The Chicken is out of the Coop!, I did not really know many detailed facts about the chicken or the eagle. I had some general information. I could have written my book from that place, but it would have missed the depth of my message had I not done the research. I learned many interesting facts about both birds that I had never thought of before. Therefore you do research for accuracy. As a writer you are presenting yourself as an "expert" on your subject. Hence, it is imperative for you to know what you are writing about (not just what you think, but what can you prove).

Finally, as a writer you should continually be a learner, and a researcher. I have found in the process of reading (learning) or researching (investigating) I get new ideas or thoughts for my own writing. I do not "copy" what someone else has written, but my own ideas find rich feeding ground in learning and investigating facts or thoughts. 


How do you go about researching? For many the first image that comes to mind about research is this daunting task of reading through several thousand page books or long boring articles. Or maybe it's the frustration of trying to locate what you are looking for from a library or online source. It does not have to be like that, it might, but not always. Don't get frustrated, take your time. I wrote in a previous post about setting a time to write, you should also set a time to do research. Depending on what you are writing will determine the depth of research you will need. If your book is an autobiography, not much research is needed unless you want to tell for example about what was going on at the time of your birth. If you are doing a Bible based book, your research would consist of the Bible of course and other commentaries and/or Bible dictionaries. Depending on your subject you might want to read some work by other theologians to add to your sources. Again, when I did the research for last book, I looked up information about the eagle and the chicken. I wanted to tell some specific stories so I began to look up the information that would answer those questions about the birds. Whatever you do, remember the goal is to add support to your work.

Researching requires you to answer the questions of "what", "who", "why", "where", "when," "how" and so forth. I've heard too many stories from people that read about books that have disappointed them because the story wasn't developed. They didn't understand why someone was mentioned in a story. What did it add to the story? When you research you demand from yourself these questions to be answered. If a character or thought is not able to be developed within the confines of your story, maybe they need their own story or to put that character or thought aside for a moment. Research to develop your stories completely so what you thought you where writing is what your readers actually read. When I was developing my book, one question I asked was about the wings of both birds. Why did the eagle have such large wings and the chicken such short wings? I then asked how does this size hinder or help? The next question was what difference does this make and what can we learn from it? I have these questions in mind when I began to research about both birds. The answers I got where both birds had wings that shouldn't be able to help them fly, which was a different thought than I thought I would get. But this allowed me to get a richer answer and create a deeper chapter than I thought I would originally.


One encouragement I have for all writers is become a life long reader and researcher. Developing these skills will actually help you as a writer. The more you read you become more comfortable and aware of how sentences flow. You know what books you like to read most, why? You know what books or articles you don't like much, why? I can surmise that any book that is difficult to understand the meaning or to follow the plot would not be a book or an author you would want to read again. Don't let that be said about you!  Finally, understand when you use other's work, cite it. There is nothing wrong with using work of others, it actually adds agreement to what you write. So when you use others work, cite it.

In closing, it is important for you to be a researcher as as writer. You want your work to be accurate along with well planned and thought out. If what you have to say is worth saying, then be willing to do all that you can to give it a great start. Until next time, keep writing!