Mar 4, 2010

Researching Your Nonfiction Book by Cilla McCain

It took me four years to research and write my book Murder In Baker Company. 90% of that time was devoted to research, waiting for reports to arrive in the mail or for a soldier or scientific expert to return my phone calls or emails. Sometimes, I would spend an entire week on a lead that turned out to not be credible.

I was sure that a seasoned reporter wouldn’t have made these rookie mistakes. (Now that I’m seasoned, I know that’s not true!) I've met writer’s who can work all day at their regular job and then spend half of the night writing. Or they set their alarms for 5:00 am and work while their house is quiet. I have tried both of these tricks and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

So, I started trying to keep all of my paperwork in a nice, neat filing system. I labeled, categorized and copied everything. I was on a roll. Inevitably, an unexpected source of information would call me out of the blue. Sometimes when these calls came in I was driving in my car to pick my child up from school, or I was in the shower, getting my hair cut, etc. You get the idea. That’s when my carefully organized filing system would go all to hell. It had a domino effect too. Once I got off of that organized track, it would take 2 weeks to get back on it!

I wish I had some valuable words of wisdom or a magic system on how to properly coordinate and stay organized throughout the research and writing of a book. All I can tell anyone is to try and do what works best for you as an individual. The passion you have for what you are writing will provide a solution.

Now that Murder In Baker Company has published and I have started on my next manuscript, I’ve decided that the best way to stay on target is to not focus on a certain number of words or pages per day but rather on an idea. Ideas are born of inspiration and there is no real way to organize inspiration. Getting those ideas down on paper should be the guiding force behind any writing schedule. Think quality, not volume. For this writer, nothing works better!


Cilla McCain

About Cilla McCain

Cilla McCain works within all genres of the literary field with a focus on the injustices of society.

You can visit her website at

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