The Lazy (and Cheap) Writer’s Guide to Research

I’ve got two days to get this blog written and posted for you wonderful readers here at Women & Words. It seems like my deadline looms closer every month before I actually put fingers to keyboard!

The problem?

Depression and distractions.

As I’ve posted before here, I’ve had a terrible time motivating myself to do any writing since the election. So much so that I’m about to delete my Patreon account because I have one poor soul there who’s paying me for weekly updates and getting zilch.

And distractions? There are a’plenty!

Housework, social engagements (Yes! Even I have rare social engagements!) and Minecraft.

I’m sitting at Powell’s at the moment. Today’s avoidance technique is research for a book that I may or may not write…

Then it occurred to me to write an article about how this method of research works.

Hmmm…There’s an idea!

Lazy

I’m a lazy person. Lots of people are, spanning the spectrum from not getting anything done and finishing everything in as short a time as possible to allow for more time wool-gathering.

Fortunately I’m from the latter category.

I joke with people at work that I’m a security officer for a reason–laziness. If I wanted to work for a living, I’d be a police officer. No lie!

The best way to research when you’re lazy is the internet, of course.

but the World Wide Web isn’t know for being particularly fact-based if you don’t know where to look. Gods know, it’s tough enough finding honest news these days, let alone a Wikipedia page that hasn’t been incorrectly altered.

Cheap

With the current Bully in Chief (thanks for the title, Anna!) our belts are already tightening, even with a recent raise at the day job.

I can’t afford to purchase all the books I want to read, let alone those that only have a single purpose–research for potential writing material.

Of course, the best way to deal with that is the public library! AmIright? (At least as long as there’s still a library to get books from.)

But if you have a decent library (and I do,) there’s still the problem of whether or not the book title you’ve discovered will actually result in anything good.

Remember, I’m lazy? I don’t want to spend hours in a library, perusing what’s on the shelves to find that one excellent resource. Not everything I want to see is on the shelves anyway.

Which brings me back around to the internet for my information.

My library has excellent selections, but it really doesn’t have much in the way of internet accessible information on the books themselves.

Getting Around the Limitations

What to do?

Right now, I have three windows open on my browser–Google, my library and Amazon.

At the library, I plug in my search keywords. In this case, it’s 1920s Chicago, an era of Prohibition, wild excesses and violence.

I take each title of interest and add transfer it to my Amazon book search. About seventy-five percent of the time, I find it there as well.

That feature Amazon has…the “Look Inside!” one?

AWESOME!

There’s the first few pages of the book, ready for me to scan through just like I would if I found the book at the library!

All while I’m sitting blocks away with a cup of coffee and a gluten-free Almond Apricot Cake! Ain’t modern life grand?

But Is That All?

Really, though, a general search at your library’s website won’t come up with all the wonderful books in which you may be interested. You can fiddle with the search parameters and come up with a handful of others, but let’s face it. Library books are usually not “with the times,” so to speak.

When I want more current titles, I can use the same searches in Amazon. But what are the ten best titles regarding my topic? Amazon won’t tell me that.

Hence the open Google window.

Once I’ve exhausted my library/Amazon search, I plug the search parameter into Google. Different books pop up there that I can look for on Amazon’s “Look Inside!” feature.

Then What?

Once I’ve found something I want to read, I go back to my library website. I’m already logged into my account–it’s only a couple of clicks before I can put a hold on the book. I’ll receive an email when it’s waiting for me!

Or I can download the book as audio/ebook if it’s available in those formats–no waiting!

And if my library doesn’t have it, I can access the interlibrary loan system and pick it up that way. That path usually takes longer to be available, but it still puts the book in my hot little hands.

Research Your Way

Any research junkies out there? Are you as lazy as I am? Do you have any insights to share with the rest of us? I’m all for learning the most efficient methods toward my goals–my time is precious, just like yours!

Click below and comment on this article! I’d love to hear from you!


A fan-geek and internet junkie, D Jordan Redhawk is an award winning writer of lesbian romance, writing in multiple genres. She highlights the outsider and reveals that we are not all that different from one another. Her books are published by Bella Books. You can reach Redhawk through her website, Facebook, or become a Patron!

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8 thoughts on “The Lazy (and Cheap) Writer’s Guide to Research

  1. I like your style! Tell me – when you are lazy enough to have enough time left over to do the wool gathering, if you turn to minecraft what kind of world do you create? Btw, where I’m from we call what you call lazy, ‘efficient.’

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    1. That’s what I used to tell a co-worker–get the job done in half the time and don’t turn it in until they ask. You look like you’ve completed the assignment and had plenty of time to goof off. The more efficient the better!

      As for Minecraft, I’m still a newb and staying offline. Large world with all the bells and whistles, currently set at Survival Easy mode. I’m in the process of building a medium-sized keep and beefing up the village it’s parked beside. Sadly, I’ll have to go Creative to repopulate the village–I’ve only one left and no way to get others without a spawner.

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  2. (I think this didn’t post. Sorry if it’s a duplicate.)

    I’m a total research junkie, but I’m the last person to ask about cheap and lazy methods, I’m afraid. I tend to let my research shape my stories. So I’ll pick up fascinating books on topics generally relating to my writing interests and devour them. Then the details on those books inspire where the story goes. That means I’m generally researching a couple books ahead of my writing.

    Currently I’m picking up resources on post-Napoleonic Paris, French politics of the 1820s, and the everyday lives of Islamic immigrants to early 19th century Europe. I’m always running across biographies of women in history who lived unexpected lives, like the 18(?)th century woman who made a living making wax anatomical models. Sometimes they end up on a story, sometimes they just expand my understanding of the world. When I started writing my current series, the research was all about the history of folk-religious practices and the cults of the saints. It all gets packed away in the compost heap that is my brain and eventually stories sprout out of it.

    I use the internet a lot, especially for public domain texts, old maps, inspirational art, and such like. But for the deep-dive research, I usually buy the books unless I know it’s going to be of very limited use (like the definitive biography of Margaret of Parma, which I decided I didn’t need to own).

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    1. Research shaping stories…I’m the same! The timeline of Tiopa Ki Lakota comes from an obscure calendar in a book written in the late 1800s. I, too, find a subject that interests me, exhaust the material I can find and let my mind wander into the “what if’s” that eventually turn into a tale.

      Every so often I come across a book that I must own, true. Unfortunately, my budget doesn’t always allow that. Copious notes are the way to go for me!

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