Research cures writers block

September 7, 2009
  • Current word count: 35,287
  • New words written: 969
  • Words til goal: 4,713 / 208 words a day til the end of September

I got over a hump in my writing today. For the last week, the story hasn’t been flowing as much as it had been. I was still writing, and the story was still progressing, but it felt like more of an effort. This morning that changed, however, and what changed it was research.

It reminded me of something I have read a number of times about Robert McKee, author of Story. McKee has said over and over in seminars that if you have done enough research, you won’t have writers block, the story will pretty much write itself. I’m not sure that tiredness and other things can’t contribute to writers block, but I do think McKee is right that when you know where you’re going in a story, it does write itself. And if you need research to get you there, then research away.

I had come to a point where I knew where the story was going but I didn’t know enough about the details. They weren’t details the characters could provide as I went along. I needed facts. So, this weekend I spent a lot of time on Google while I was writing, and this morning, before I typed a word in my manuscript, I Googled away until I had found exactly what I needed. I did find it, and after that, the story sped along again.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Also, I wanted to check in with the other goals I had set at the beginning of the week:

  • Send off entry to Backspace contest: Check
  • Send picture book to three editors I met at various SCBWI events: Check
  • Send revised first novel to agents: Check. I’ve sent to four, who I had researched and had the personalized query letters ready to go. I’ve still got a bunch on my list to research and send to, but that will be another week. At least I made a start.

How’s your writing coming?

Write On!


  1. Congratulations on meeting all those goals; it’s an impressive list. And yes, you are right about the research. Sometimes a story simply can’t go on without the details.

  2. […] a very necessary part of the writing process — guru Robert McKee says research is the key to overcoming writers block — and research is useful at all times. Anytime you’re not sure about something, […]

  3. […] McKee, author of Story, said the key to overcoming writer’s block is research. For me, whether you’re actually researching some aspect of your story or simply thinking […]

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