You waste time on the Internet anyway. Don’t deny it, we all do. There’s a way to transform that time spent into good work instead of…. evil work? Or rather, instead of just a waste!

It’s simple, really… instead of getting lost inside the web of information, just rework your scrolling, focus it and call it “research.”

When you don’t have an idea for your next story
Remember when we were kids and they gave us an assignment where we had to pick a newspaper headline and make a story from it? Remember newspapers? Well now we’ve got the big, bad Interweb at our fingertips. Literally, scroll down your Facebook feed, click on the first article that interests you (yes, even the one that starts with “5 things you need to change about yourself because you suck”) and read. Then, rework it. What fictitious character would read something like this? What happens if someone actually tried all of these? If the article is a story about something that happened to someone, take that real person and change a characteristic or the setting (as in: what if this happened in Lebanon?). Jot something down, even if it’s just a sketch of an idea. Now, focus it. What else can I research about this? And bam, you’re back to scrolling the Internet. One tip: make sure you make a document of your ideas, research links or copy-pasted passages of stuff you’re reading.

When you have an idea that doesn’t need traditional research
This means, you have an idea for a story and you already know about the surroundings, or the characters. For instance, you’re writing a story about an awesome 30-something girl in Beirut who runs FADE IN: (great story, by the way). Doesn’t seem to need traditional research. Hogwash! Let’s say there’s a character in your story who works at an ad agency and scenes that exist there. Sure, everyone kinda knows what that’s like and can imagine a pretty good version of an ad agency. With just a bit of research, you can go deeper than that and really bring your story to life. In this example, all you’d need to do is Google search for the ad agencies in your area and peruse their websites. I’m sure you know someone who knows someone who works at on of those agencies and you can go visit one day. Just sit there and observe. Take notes.

When you have an idea that does need traditional research
Easy peasy. You’re writing about a doctor, airline pilot, something science-y, or, the psychology of teenagers in jail. Um, just research those topics and take notes. Take your research even further by interviewing real people who have those jobs or have been through those situations.

Happy writing, everybody!

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