Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

How much research is enough research before you start writing?

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How do you decide when you’ve done enough research on a project and you’ve reached the point when you’re ready to write? Or is there a distinct threshold or starting point when you research a writing project?

I think, personally, there is no fixed or set guideline for when, what, or how much to research before you write. I also think you cannot compartmentalize research and writing completely. For example, let’s say I’ve been given the job to write ad copy about a company’s specific LCD mount — those stands and mounting support brackets used to set up or hold up an LCD screen. What might I need to research to write the ad copy.

Well, of course, I would want to know the technical specs of that particular mount. I also would want the company to tell me how their LCD mount compares to similar mounts by other manufacturers. And I would need also to know what brands of LCD screens the mount may work with, and NOT work with.

At that point, I would read the research materials I had and make a stab at writing the ad copy, or starting to write the ad copy. I would have sufficient material to think of benefits this LCD mount offers buyers.

After writing the first draft of my copy, I would look it over, rethink the project, and at that point I might find some “holes” or missing information which requires more research.

How do you work the old research/write/research/write cycle when you’re doing a writing project? Is it easier for you to research and write fiction, ad copy, non-fiction, or what sort of writing? Why is that particular writing easier or better for you than others? Tell us, please.
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