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The Research or the New Thing?

edited March 2012 in - Writing Problems
Recently I've spent about a month and a half researching for a novel I'm going to embark on and it's been getting to the point I've been feeling quite nervous as to how this research is going to turn into a novel, I don't have a plot yet or any characters. I was sort of plodding on with research, partly with the hope that something would spark from it (Sarah Waters style).

Now the weirdest thing happened last night. A completely new idea for a novel requiring very little if any research sprang into my mind and grew and grew and I love it! But it's totally unrelated to my recent research.

My creative side says dump the research and go with the new thing, I need to enjoy what I'm doing and I don't enjoy research and this new thing is exciting and means I am writing for a real purpose again. But I fear this is perhaps giving into my fish-like attention span maybe. Am I going to be one of those writers jumping from project to project, never finishing anything, if I don't stick with the research now? On the other hand this 'new thing' is something I can start writing NOW.

What would you do? I think I know the answer as to what I should do but I would love to hear some other thoughts on this.


  • http://stevenchapmanwriter.com/?p=241

    Not sure if it will resolve your problem but I did an epic post a while back on exactly that subject, Emma :)

    Might be useful.
  • Emma, your post has come up under website problems, which isn't what you intended!
    I have a background research project going on for a medieval story I've had in mind for years: but I've recently shot off into a different direction, which is hard work (writing and editing is) but fun. Why should you plod on with something that you have no real use for at present? You've got a new idea, and it may be that this is the right way to go. How will you know if you don't follow your nose?
    If you have characters queuing at the door shouting, "Me, Me!" and a plot that wants you to follow it, that's the one to go for. The research will always be there afterwards - if you don't ditch it altogether. You can't write in a vacuum, but nor can you write in some worthy world of research and knowledge-accrual with no story involved.
    Go with the new thing - it needs you attention!
  • Thanks bertiebear that is reassuring

    Thanks too for pointing out my mistake with putting this as website problems, oopsy!
  • go with The New Thing. Leave your research aside to ferment for later, but go with what has oxygen and a 'push' behind it. Get it written Emma before it fades!
  • If you don't have a plot or characters for the first project then I suggest doing a first draft of the new idea then going back to the research for a break from it before you start redrafting and editing.
  • Yes, go with the New Thing. It might get snotty and sod off elsewhere if you don't give it attention now.

    Flighty things, these ideas. Pin the blighter down, pronto.
  • Go with it. Research is never wasted. However, energy and ideas and enthusiasm can be. You can always go back to your research.
  • Agree with bbear, so many people complain of block and would love to access that rush of ideas and energy. Open the tap and let it flow
  • Go with the flow as others have said.

    (One day the research stuff will come together and hit you with a sledge hammer.)
  • Yup, when it hits you like that you can't ignore it! Go with it.
  • The thing I see here is the research. That's the stumbling block. With no plot outline or characters sketched, there is nothing to work from. A writer always starts with an idea (whatever/whoever that idea is). The idea gives life to story, the story creates its characters etc. Leave the research at the back door and get writing first. Your imagination and creativity has sparked with your new thing, so go with it. My advice is to leave research til last, when you have all the other technicalities ironed out and you have a solid story behind you.
  • [quote=Emma B]My creative side says dump the research [/quote]

    Save it - it's never wasted.

    Good luck with both projects!
  • edited March 2012
    Definitely seize your new idea while you're this enthusiastic, Emma. You might even be 'seeing' it clearly enough to pen paint your characters and get all the chain links in for your plot.

    Edited to say: Don't forget to save in triplicate all that research which is going into mothballs.
  • More than likely the results of your research will bubble up whilst you are writing. Nothing is ever wasted, as they say.
  • Thanks everyone, I started working with the new idea last night.

    It is the first time in a long time I have got something with a definitive plot line that I'm really excited about.
  • There's your answer - it's exciting, which the research with no particular endpoint wasn't. Go on - have fun!
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