Book In A Year Series-Month 4: The Hope Of Working Knowledge

Writers are readers.

What I want you to remember as Month 4 of this process ends, is that writing will require you to chase your imagination. It will require you honoring your intellectual curiosity, and be willing to have a certain amount of walking around (working) knowledge.

Now, what do I mean when I say walking around or working knowledge? This is a set of information that you have independent of other outside research or knowledge. These are just things you know because you have experience them, learned of them, or even went to school to learn. Since you know these things, research is not paramount to your writing–it is a back up!

Lydia King is a writer, and a doctor. When she wrote Opium and Absinthe, she had the medical knowledge to write about the pain her protag was experiencing and even the reason why. Yet, due to the setting of the story, she still had to research what would make the setting accurate! You cannot get away from research: it is only the amount that you must research!

Reading is the cheapest way to feed that working knowledge. Feed your head–keep reading. Your imagination will thank you.

Book In A Year Series-Month 4: Why Credit Is Necessary

Note: There will be a social media talk/live (On Facebook and Instagram) about this on Friday, April 23, 2021.

Writing is a part of the arts.

With this being so, writers are artists. In being a part of this guild, it is the expectation that you do your work honest, and with merit.

What does this mean?

The cardinal rule of writing is this: YOU DO NOT STEAL FROM OTHER WRITERS.

You can be inspired by other writers. You can be influenced by writers, and even try to imitate them! But, you cannot take the work of another writer, and claim it as your own. Writers do no steal for other writers! I cannot emphasize this enough.

This is why research is needed.

This is why you must be knowledgeable about your genre.

This is why you must believe enough in your own talent to write the story that you want to write.

Writing is dual ended: the world inspires us! Writing, like acting, is a sort of thievery. We take from other people, their experience, and even conjure people from our imaginations to suit the needs of a story! But, you must understand that intellectual property is still a thing. It is still relevant!

If your story is a fan fiction, and you do not own the characters, you have to say that.

If your story is an adaptation (like the author who had to ask the estate of Margaret Mitchell to write a sequel to Gone With The Wind!), you have to say that.

If the story is not a complete original thought? YOU HAVE TO SAY THAT.

Writing, and your integrity as a writer, is dependent on whether or not you can give credit where credit is due. Do not be labeled as the writer that steals.

It’s not a good look.

Image

Book In A Year Series-Month 4: Out Of Whole Cloth, Or Not (Or The Danger Of Open Sources)

Writers are known to make things up as you go.

Even the writer Tananarive Due said that sometimes, as a writer, that you must ‘make up’ what you need. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, yet, there are things that you must be mindful of.

A good rule of thumb as a writer is that if you have elements in your story that have a basis in your current reality (geography, specific people, certain lore, etc), you need to have a trusted site to reference. Here is where we get tp the meat of the matter: open sources vs. closed sources.

Open sources: this is software (or a cite) that everyone can see, anyone can modify and can share as they see fit. Since these sources are not regulated, they are not trusted. This is why Wikipedia is not a trusted source.

Closed sources:  systems use code that is proprietary and kept secret to prevent its use by other entities. Traditionally, they are sold for a profit. Only the original authors of software can access, copy, and alter that software. These are articles are found on search engines (Google, Bing, etc).

What I want you to remember on your journey to writing is you always want to use a closed source because it will grant you accurate information. When you are constructing a world, you need accurate information. Once you have a foundation of information, you can augment as you see fit–but you need that foundation to be sure!

Research Tip #2: Bookmark your resource sites, It will save your heartache in the long run. You’re welcome.

Encouragement Pages-04/09/2021

Every writer needs a fail-safe.

What is this fail-safe?

This is a group of at least three sources that you go to verify, authenticate, and secure the information that you funnel your information through. These sources need to be legit as well! No open sources!

Go forth and write!

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

Encouragement Pages-04/07/2021

Your imagination is powerful, but your imagination is not enough.

There is nothing wrong with you as writer following your intellectual curiosity and seeing what you come up with! Look up new words! Find a YourTube rabbit hole and see what comes up!

Research the world around you.

One of the greatest things about writing is that you are always in this constant state of researching, asking questions, and figuring out what fits where.

Intellectual curiosity is an open door, don’t lock it.

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

Book In A Year Series- Month 4: LET’S GET TO WORK

One of my favorite people to follow on social media (read: TikTok), is George Lee (TikTok: @consciouslee). He has this quote that I ascribe to: “Research over Me-search“. As a writer, I cannot agree with this more! There is a portion of writing that deals with, even requires, that you allow your imagination to run! It requires that your creative prowess be at its absolute peak in order to create the work or world you want.

Don’t think of research as drudgery: it isn’t! Think of research as brick and mortar for a work. It is an essential part of working on a project. Research has a dual power–foundation for your imagination, and ‘sturdiness’ for your reader. The more accurate and detailed you make a story, the more believable your story! Details are what draw your reader in! Don’t skimp on them!

When you start a new project, especially if fiction or non-fiction, a degree of its creation is powered by your talent, the other is a degree of research. The amount and depth of research depends on the need of the story. It is always better to have a wealth of research before you start, than to stop your momentum in order to research.

Now, here is the tricky part!

Sometimes the story (especially, fiction!) will take you points where research can only help! It could be a street map, a globe, airport codes, or even local history–research matters! Think of it as another way to fuel the fire of the story. Research is snacking for your imagination! So forth and explore the worlds outside your own head!

Research Tip #1:

Label your research! This can be bookmarks or a digital file, but label them! This way your work won’t be lost and can be easily organized.

Encouragement Pages-04/05/2021

One of the best things about research is what you might find, find out and the development of the rest of your walking around knowledge.

Research allows you to expand your knowledge base, which enables you to write the work you desire.

Enjoy the research. Enjoy the questions that come up! Understand that as a writer, reading and research will always be a part of what is required of you.

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

Encouragement Pages-04/02/2021

Research is everything!

It is every bit as important as what you decide to write!

Whether it is academic writing, or non-academic writing, understand that research matters! Whether it is the correct spelling of a word, or the correct time zone for your fiction, research matters.

Google is a first step.

With Love & Ink,

JBHarris

Research Made Yours: The Power Of Making Your Own Myth

There is a blessing in creating your own world.

And with all that creation, you need something that will hold it together. You need the thread that belief and myth provide.

When I began my writing career, I was in a sort of tailspin. I knew that I wanted to write, but I also knew that I wanted to write about a great many things!

(This is where I must plug the necessity for you as a writer to have a tribe or network by which you are engaged. It can be life saving! Don’t knock social media!)

I follow several writers on Twitter. None have been so gracious as the magnanimous Tananarive Due. She is a published writer (NYT Best Selling, mind you) and she teaches at UCLA. The fact that she would have time to even answer me, a struggling, have drowning writer in the social media ether was monumental.

I asked her about making time to write. I asked her about how she made time. I even asked her about research and work. Tananarive Due gave me a piece of advice that I will give to you:

“Make it up.”

She told me this in response to needing a myth, specific research for a topic. Her advice was if I didn’t see it, couldn’t find it, just make it up. Tananarive Due didn’t know that she had just shattered the glass ceiling of my imagination.

With imagination being my fuel and conduit to express my thoughts on the world, I did not know I could do that. I did not know I could make up what I needed independent of what I had seen in a book. I didn’t know I could do that–be allowed to do that!

In reminding me of what I am, of what I am allowed to do, that freed me is a writer. It let me explore with a more fearless stance. It allowed me to research, to read, not just to take as gospel fact–but to analyze. To bend. To reinterpret. To make my own.

As a writer, a teacher, I give you this same freedom. I free you from the staunch mechanics of your imaginations! You are a writer, so write. You have to absolute right to construct and deconstruct the worlds you create as you see fit! You must make up what you need, by simple virtue of needing it.

Go forth and create. Challenge your imagination, and see what the fruits are and become of it. Remember the guiding light from the Dark Tower of Stephen King as you do: “Do not come soft to the blank page.”