Before computers, the difficult part of research was finding materials. As a kid, I had to ride a bus a half hour downtown to the big county library when I needed to do serious research for school.
Thanks to the internet, I can look up anything that pops into my mind immediately, I can search any question. I can not only pull up a map of a place I want my character to go, I can see the satellite view of it and, most places, pull the little guy onto the map and see what my character would see driving down a road, turning to look side to side.
It’s beyond awesome. I love it.
However, the old dilemma of when to stop researching happens more quickly and is compounded by the necessity of sorting through to discard information of questionable value. Libraries used to do that for us.
Now, even when you’ve narrowed it to solid sources, it’s likely you have an overwhelming amount of information to review. Personally, I procrastinate at this point. I let it all sit, hoping it will somehow sift itself into some kind of logical order.
That doesn’t really work, though. I eventually start sorting through everything, shoving it into physical or computer files labeled by categories of information. Then I attack one category at a time.
This is an imperfect process. For example, I have a four-inch stack of notes on my table about marketing right now, and folders within folders and files that overlap folders floating around in the main folder unfiled. There are a lot of resources that fit more than one part of marketing.
My method to deal with this information overload?
I start with the best resource – the best NEW resource if there are several.
For my marketing project, I’m starting by reading Carla King‘s Self-Publishing Bootcamp Guide, 4th edition. I’ll take notes specific to my project and make an outline or timeline. Then I’ll quickly review old books I’ve read before, scanning for anything to add. If I hit a better outline, I’ll combine the two.
With that solid base, those other piles of pages will read quickly, because most of it will be review. I’ll be skimming through, looking for unique information. That makes the prospect less daunting. And the details will be plopped into the right place on the outline as I find them.
Yeah. It’s not so bad. I’m ready to get to it!