Tag Archives: research

Research or write?


Sean McMullen|15 February 2015

What have nuclear weapons got to do with your writing? What’s that? You say you’re not into post-apocalyptic stories? Actually this is about how to do research, but the development of the first Soviet atomic bomb has a very important lesson for you.

In 1947 the German scientist Gunter Wirths was a rather unwilling guest of the Soviets, and they had just learned that their uranium was purer than what the Americans produced. A minister told this to Wirths, and said he was very proud of it. Wirths said “Is no use to be proud of it, because Americans make it just as pure as is necessary, and you do by far more, and that makes it very expensive.” The minister replied “You damn Germans.”

Stop and think about that. How many times have you done way, way more research than you could have possibly needed to write your story, just because it’s interesting – then tossed most of it away. You almost certainly have a full time job if you are on this site, but have aspirations to be a writer. That means your free time has around eight hours chomped out of it by your job. Remove another eight hours for sleep, and four more for eating, shopping, Facebook and taking out the garbage. You are now down to four hours for writing.

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