Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 21, 2008

Research and Writing

I’m working on historical fiction now, and like most of my writing, this involves a lot of research. Like most people who write in this genre, I love the research part. Reading, reading, reading, one book leading to another, what’s not to like? Because fact or detail findng is so compelling to me, I pretty much follow the research/writing time rule I set when I began the first book I published – a picture book, AANI AND THE TREE HUGGERS, set in 1970s India – which was written when my daughter started school. During the quiet time while she was gone, I wrote. After she came home from school, often with a friend, if I found time I do the research. And some books went to bed with me.

I find my research-after-three p.m. rule still works, though there’s no longer an 8-to-3 routine in our house. My brain is about as fresh as it will get in the morning, so it’s best to write then. And reading after tea time, when my brain is slower, works. I don’t have to read on full alert as I don’t need every detail, but just the ones vivid enough to bust through the fog. And since I’ve spent the morning with my characters I know what they might need to know, so I’m reading for some answers. The thread of my work is with me as I read, and sometimes changes shape. In that case, I write. I don’t have a no-writing-after-3 p.m. rule. It’s just that I don’t have to.

Of course each day has its own pattern and it’s rarely a tabula rasa one as I fit in other duties. But this is the pattern that works for me.



  1. As a historical fictional writer I really connect to your posts. I am about to “friend you”. So much to relate to here.

  2. HI, Joyce! Just friended you back.. and am a bit jealous of all those flowers you are seeing: after all our snow, I’ve been psyched about brown grass.. but it was a virtual life. I will look for Healing Water — what a beautiful cover — and others.

  3. I’m glad to see you expand on this. I’m going to try & work this schedule into my day. Definitely easier to do research when son is home, then to write. Although the kind of brainstorming writing I’m still at goes okay. It’s when I try to work scene structure & plot & character and setting and…everything else into the day that I need alone/quiet time!
    Of course, yesterday, when I tried to do some early afternoon research, I ended up taking a nap! Not sure how that works into the balance. 🙂

  4. I’m glad you’re glad to see me expand, because your entries always get me thinking, and lately it seems after I reply to you I realize there’s a kerner or more of a new blog entry for me!
    And yes, those big elements need time and privacy, but good to keep the momentum going with whatever fits. Naps — absolutely! No use working with sleepy brain and every once in a while, something comes from there — or afterward.

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