I am one of those crazy writers who loves research. I sometimes think I love it more than writing. We are constantly told to write what we know, but that doesn't mean we can't write about what we don't know--we just have to do some extra work. And once that work is done, it can be used over and over again, saving you time and increasing your productivity.
I began researching ovarian cancer after an annual visit to the OB/GYN. The lack of a reliable test for ovarian cancer got me interested in finding out more about the disease that has long been called a silent killer. I spent endless hours pouring over articles on the Internet and information from the American Cancer Society, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, and the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF).
Through GCF, I was put in touch with a woman whose sister died of ovarian cancer. Sheryl Silver, the Founder of Johanna's Law Alliance for Women's Cancer Awareness agreed to an interview. From the information I found and Ms. Silver's interview I was able to write two articles--one focused on raising awareness of the early warning signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and the other on Silver's attempts to increase the instances of early detection.
I was also able to use my research in a novel I co-wrote with my sister where one of the main characters is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We could not have provided the level of detail we needed to if we did not understand the early symptoms, treatment options, and the physical and pyschological effects of ovarian cancer.
In the fall of 2005, I queried an editor of an ezine to find out what topics she most wanted to bring her readers. She asked me to provide articles that offered time management tips for writers. I thought it was a great subject-- one that I struggled with, but knew little about how to fix. I purchased a handful of books about working from home and browsed the Internet to find what I was looking for.
This research turned into four articles focused on providing my fellow writers with ways to manage their time so they could have more productive days of writing. I continue to use this research in my current role as staff member for the monthly ezine Writer2Writer.
I even plan to reuse all the research I did for last year's National Novel Writing Month project. With what I've uncovered about daily life in the times of Jesus, I will write its sequels and possibly future articles.
If you are one of those writers--like me--who is constantly struggling to find ways to make the most out of your writing time, using research material to generate numerous articles and story ideas is a great way to save time and write more.