Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Write Your Best Book: Part Two (Research)

It doesn’t matter how good your idea is or how interesting the message. If you haven’t done your research, your writing will lack the credibility it deserves.

How to Write Your Best Book: Part Two

How far would you travel to conduct an interview for your book? To what lengths would you go in order to secure a source for your writing? Is research necessary even when you’re doing creative writing?

This week on The Portfolio Life, Marion Roach Smith and I continue the How to Write Your Best Book series with Part Two in which we address these questions and more. In this part, we focus on the topic of research and why it’s essential to do your best writing.

Listen in as we discuss some surprising research methods, what ocean Marion crossed to interview an expert, and why she recommends putting down the keyboard and picking up the phone. All these tips and more influenced the work behind my latest book Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Play

Show highlights

In this episode, Marion and I discuss:

  • Looking for holes to build on what other people have written
  • Saying something unique that contributes to the arena
  • How to use studies and bibliographies to dig deeper
  • The danger of accidentally building a straw man argument
  • Surprising results from picking up the phone
  • Scripts for building rapport with industry experts
  • Why to avoid referencing celebrities
  • The one word no one has ever said to Marion
  • How to find interesting sources and connect with them
  • The difference between an Internet writer and one who does real research.
  • Which characteristic of a city gets Marion on the plane to interview someone
  • When to call, email, or Skype a lead versus flying to meet them
  • Why remaining vague is a strategic move
  • A narrative trick that instantly bestows your writing with “street cred”

Quotes and takeaways

  • “Repurposing the famous is not going to cut it.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Every fact, every interview, should heighten and add to the argument.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “Live quotes are always better than repurposed quotes.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • “There are no tricks to reaching out.” –Marion Roach Smith
  • It’s easy to assume “no” for someone else and avoid asking them your question.
  • Never research a piece starting from an intent to prove something. Research to discover the truth.
  • “Make sure you have one whacky, off-the-wall question.” –Marion Roach Smith

Resources

What did you last discover while conducting research? Where have you traveled to interview a source? Share in the comments

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

It’s Not Too Late to Become a Writer

Download my free eBook on why now is the best time to become a writer.

In this book, I share everything I’ve learned bout what it takes to start writing for a living — and how you can get started today.

Click here to download the free book now.

  • Asking pros Jeff is such a simple way to do research and add pop to your book. But people are beyond terrified to do it. Or feel reaching out is a waste of time because said pro will never read let alone respond to the message. Hog wash. I am not blogging heavy but goodness, I am pretty busy and happily share my thoughts or book quotes, or for interviews too.

    Ya never know until ya ask, and if you will make the freeing but uncomfortable decision to ask experts for their thoughts, for your book, more people will respond than you think.

  • beth coulton

    Ok, you’ve got me hooked….again. Listening to these podcasts has stirred up the writing/blogging passion that went dormant in me over a year ago because my workday was long and my evening hours short. I basically turned my back on creativity, convincing myself I’d be fine without it. (I wasn’t). That was, of course, until I started listening to The Portfolio Life again the other day when this series started….and tonight I sat down, wrote 1000 words, and made myself a “creative list”. The list consists of – so far – 6 simple, easily accomplishable things that I can choose from in the evenings in order to stir and foster my creativity and feel that I’ve done something to invest in myself. I’m excited- we’ll see how it goes!

  • I am really enjoying this series. Now I find myself reading to interview someone. I wonder if you have any tips on recording an interview?

  • Marc Middlebrooks

    Loved this three part podcast. I just bought the audiobook of Real Artists Don’t Starve, and I’m looking forward to listening. In part two, Marion mentions a book about trauma and growth and she said she would send you the link to the book. What is the name of that book and who is it by? Thanks for the info. – Marc Middlebrooks

  • mary145151

    Good suggestion for the new writers and i think it will be best tips for them. They can learn more information how they become success in writings in here. I also like this post about book write.