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Studies in Creative Writing - The Writer and the Archive: ENG 4096

Research help for the course, The Writer and the Archive.

Backup Your Brain

Image from The Brain that Wouldn't DieWhen researching for information and inspiration, you will encounter vast amounts of potentially interesting content.  Images, web pages, video clips, books, sections of text in a blog post, etc.  Rarely do you have time to dig deeper when you first encounter it, but how do you remember everything you might want or need to get back to later?  There are many tools that can be used for different parts of the creative research process, and to suit different styles of exploration.  These are a few recommendations. Still from The Brain that Wouldn't Die (1962)

Content Clippers: Build, Curate, & Annotate Your Archive


You can't always read or think over every potential piece of interesting content at the very moment when you happen to see it, so you need a way to gather all that possibility into a place you can return to later, for deeper reading, insight, and inspiration. 

There are many apps for and approaches to clipping content.  For creative writers, you want to look for an app that allows you to clip a wide array of types of content such as images, video, text, files, and provides a large amount of storage for those files.

Map and Timeline Tools to Enhance Context

Map of Europe with pushpins stuck into it                            Sometimes organizing events or places related to your topic by location or time can help you see your topic in a new way, unearthing new questions, connections, or insights.

The tools below can help you visualize your topic.

Visualize Your Topic

example of a mind mapTry visualizing your topic to explore all of the different angles, ideas, and key concepts related to your topic. This is a good brainstorming exercise and can also help focus your topic into a research question.

The tools below can help you visualize your topic.

Citation Managers: Contact Info for Essential Sources

Refworks logo

Citations aren't just for pasting into the bibliography of a research paper. Citations are the fundamental details you need to keep track of any kind of information that is important to you. Think of citations like a kind of smartphone contacts list for the sources that have the most influence on your work.

Even if you're not formatting sources for a paper, you still want to be able to keep track of the most important sources you encounter so that you can "get in touch" with them again later. Some citation managers are very basic, while others allow for note-taking, file uploads, and have social sharing options.