Research; or why Google shouldn’t be my best friend, but is.

Research.  I’ve always hated research.  In school, I much preferred to write essays that involved my own opinions and knowledge of the world rather than writing on a subject that required a lot of research.  Why?  It’s not that I hate learning new things, it’s just…I suck at researching.  Like, seriously.  Even after getting my Masters, where we take two courses on searching practices, I still suck at it!

Photo from George Mason University

But with writing, comes research.  Sometimes the research is little, and other times it is huge.  Sometimes research simply acts a refresher…I wrote a story awhile back that involved a girl learning to the play the clarinet.  I play the clarinet (well, played it regularly for several years, and now occasionally take it out and play for little bits at a time), but it’s been a few years since I’ve had a music class, so I continuously looked information up, just to make sure I was still getting terms and ideas correct.  Sometimes research is more comprehensive, though, especially if you are adventurous and want to write about something you know very little about (or, perhaps, an aspect of something you need to get varying perspectives on).

I tend to research as I go.  I am sure some writers do a lot of research before ever starting a project, which is fantastic.  But, given my history with research, I’d probably end up chucking my computer at the wall before I ever got around to starting the manuscript.  So I usually research as I go.

Currently, I am doing just that.  Not a lot of research, but little things, like making sure I am being geographically correct when I mention a certain type of plant, that sort of thing.  And, during this research, I noticed a funny thing…Google has been far more useful to me than any other research method.

As a librarian, this should make me cringe!  And it does, a little.  But while I have taken a few books out and have tried to look up articles through online databases, for the kind of information I need, Google gets me what I want quickly, so that I can keep writing.

Is this good?  Bad?  I think, for little tidbits of information, Google is great.  It’s no secret that I use Google at work.  When a patron says ‘I am looking for a book by the guy who wrote that series about a singer living in South Africa’ (Disclaimer – not a real series…or at least not one I know of!) then Google is great, and much more efficient than our catalogue.  For an entire project on the history of singers in South Africa, however, Google is probably not the way to go.  But in this world, there is no denying the usefulness of Google and other search engines, even for writers.

Now what would we do if we still lived like this?

So what does this mean?  Nothing, really.  It’s just an observation that my attempts to be like this…

Except, you know, a younger, female version…

were no where near as successful as my online research.  But, at the very least, I can be glad that the internet has not yet made me do this…

Notice I said “yet”  Photo from shinyshiny

What about you?  How often do you research for your writing?  Do you research before hand, as you go, or a combination of the two?  Do you use Google or other search engines, or do you stick to more official methods of information?

2 Responses so far.

  1. T. Drecker says:
    Sometimes I wonder how we survived without Google 🙂 Right now I'm researching for a slightly historical novel and I'm using a combination of Google, books and museums. Google is great, but variety is better.
  2. Mere Joyce says:
    I agree completely! It's fantastic to have the access and know-how to use a combination of sources for researching something, as it allows for variety and cross-reference, too!

    I hope your research goes wonderfully, =)

LEAVE A COMMENT