Recently I was working on a short story (it’s not going to make it into my up-coming collection, but perhaps the one after that), when I hit a snag.
My character’s mother had been through chemotherapy and lost her hair. She was wearing a wig, which was all well and good until it came to bed time. As she reached up to take her wig off, I realised I had no idea how wigs stayed on a person’s head or the correct method for removing them.
I needed to do some research.
I will quickly point out that I did not immediately open my web browser and start searching (although I was naturally tempted). I finished my writing session, skipping over the part where I didn’t yet have concrete details. I knew I’d become distracted when I started researching, so I put my writing first.
Once I was free to research, I went to YouTube and searched for videos on wigs. What I found was this gem of a woman.
Now, my purpose was to find out how to remove a wig, which I did within five minutes. But once I got started I couldn’t stop watching her videos.
Not procrastination. Not because I’m addicted to the internet or to YouTube (although I may be slightly addicted).
I watched because I was fascinated by this woman’s positivity. I loved her confidence in being able to just whip her wig off in front of the camera without any embarrassment. I loved the details of the wigs and the craftsmanship that goes into their design.
Before that day I had very little interest in wigs. In the space of an hour I had a whole new appreciation for them and I had been exposed to a truly inspirational person.
As with all research, I ended up with more information than I needed. But as a writer I’m like a bower bird, collecting all these experiences, facts and personalities for use somewhere down the road.
Was it a waste of time? Not at all. Confident that my writing had been done for the day, I was able to allow my Creativity the room to explore a fascinating subject thereby exposing her to a fresh supply of creative fodder. Who knows where this will lead.
So what about you? What piece of information do you need to research this week? Comment below and tell us.
Try to pick something slightly crazy – a subject with intriguing possibilities and follow it to see where it leads. When you’re done, come back and let us know how it went.