Finding similarities between writer’s research and writer’s exploration wouldn’t be that hard, both can fit into each other like a glove (unless it is the O.J. Simpson trial glove). The key connection there is finding facts, information, and ideas to a theme you have already pre-set. No problem, unless it comes down and doing it. It is often time consuming, can be tedious and boring when you find everything else except what you nee, but is immensely rewarding when you reach upon the exact material that you need.
Still, are there any differences? No matter how every writer is conscious of the importance research has for what they do, exploring is in my mind a broader concept that is contained in the term itself — you can go in search of something when you know exactly or close enough what you are looking for, or you can just throw yourself into unknown — unknown set of information, facts ideas…
Sure, exploration can often be as time-consuming or tedious as ‘focused’ research but it is the unknown that can surprise you, bring about a new writing idea or make you stumble upon a fact that you weren’t able to find when you were looking for it. But writer’s, or any artist exploration can be even more rewarding, put you in a place exactly where you need to be and give you exactly the angle for your writing that you might have not been aware you need.
I’ve no idea how the leader of South Carolina band The Explorers Club came to the idea how to call his band, but he and his band members started out by exploring the sound of California’s The Beach Boys. That gave them a chance to make a brilliant summer harmony album “Freedom Wind” (2008). But that didn’t stop them to further expand their exploration of ‘California sound’ their follow-up “Grand Hotel” (2012) looking and sounding like a meeting with Herb Albert & Tijuana Brass and their “Whipped Cream & Other Delights” (1965). Maybe soon their club will explore something else.
As a writer, there should always be a time and place for exploration. Even when you are doing focused research, you may stumble on something new and unexpected, something that can be that writing spark. Don’t abandon it or overlook it, the results will probably be better than you’ve expected.
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