Monday, April 28, 2014

5 Tips for a Writers Research Trip


By Skye Elizabeth Wieland

Last year, I planned my very first solo trip overseas to Ireland. This was to be a soul-searching trip for me as well as research trip for my upcoming series set in Medieval Ireland and the UK. While simply saying I wanted to go to all the castles as well and good, I found that I needed a plan to make my time efficient. Below are 5 tips that I found were pivotal in making my Emerald Isle trip a success.

1.)     Plan ahead, but be flexible.

Have a rough outline of the places you would like to see, but be open to change if you stumble upon something better.  Do some research ahead of time on the kind of things you need to investigate and find out where they lie.  Create an itinerary with these items and prioritize them. 

      2.)   Contacts
Cold canvas some contacts via the internet and social media groups that would be involved in the sort of things you want to research. Write a lovely intro email/letter formally introducing your self and what you are wanting to research. These people will be great to a.) meet b.) keep in contact for the writing process and c.) you may even be lucky enough to be offered to stay with them.

3.)   Time out
We all get excited with the prospect of being in another country, particularly a place we want to write about. But while you are busy soaking in information like a dehydrated sponge, you mustn’t neglect timeout.
Find a quiet spot (like a grassy hill) and sit and meditate. Seek God on what you need to discover and find while you are there. Observe the sites, close your eyes and observe the smells, the feel and the sounds. What birds can you hear? What kind are they? Can you describe their sound? What season is it and what does that smell like?

4.)    Record everything and collect
Gather as much information as you can. Photos, journals, even if you don’t think you need it, it MAY come in handy and it’s not like you can just skip back over to that country tomorrow. Collect catalogues and brochures on the sites you visit and see if you can buy books from local heritage sites and gift stores.

5.)    Double up

As an author, it’s sometimes hard to get out to new places. So if you are planning a long distance overseas research trip. Make some arrangements in advance to promote your previous novels. Contact bookstores and radio stations and organize some book signings. You’ll find that most bookstores in other countries are very welcoming of international authors.

 Ultimately though, it's your trip! Have fun! Structure it how you want it. Have that balance of you time vs work time, because who knows "if" and "when" you'll be back there.

If you are interested in seeing more photos from my trip, or viewing some of the video blog's that I filmed and stuck on YouTube from my trip, feel free to visit the following links.





  1. Thanks for those tips Skye. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip and a profitable one for your book. I would ssooooo love to go on a research trip to Nova Scotia for my book. Have been there before, but that was before I had the idea for the book and I didn't look at half the things I need to.You can find out so much these days from the internet, but nothing is quite the same as being there. You're certainly right about the sights, sounds and smells. Can't wait to see your new book. And of course you'll have to go back to Ireland to promote it :) Blessings.

  2. Absolutely…it really helped to be able to be there and have a plan and try and make the most of it. Mostly it was a sensory overload when I first got there, so having some planning helped to focus me….and I'll more than definitely be back to Ireland. I fell in love with the place.

  3. Looks like you had a great time. I'm not quite ready for the overseas research trip yet, but I reckon your advice rings true even for the simple, local road-trip research adventure. With your tips in mind next time I 'hit the road', I'll be putting on my writer/researcher hat in advance in order to soak up as much of the experience as I can.

  4. Thanks for those useful tips on doing research Skye. Sounds like you've had a great trip - loved the photos. I specially liked the part of having time out! :) Much needed always and especially so when we are busy.

  5. Just catching up, Skye. Good for you. The effort and expense will be worth it eventually. It'll make your novel ring true. All the best with it!

  6. Its been great article.I like the way you have explained..

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  7. Skye, you are the queen of cold canvassing! Sounds like you had a brilliant time! Can't reiterate enough the importance of allowing down-time. I am particularly over-ambitious when it comes to jamming in as much as time can possibly allow in the name of literary research, but would like to think I've learned my lesson - a little, at least! :) Looking forward to seeing the culmination of all this tripping in print.