I like learning things, especially that I am now out of school and there are no tests. A few years ago I discovered The Teaching Company. You can download courses on random subjects. I’ve taken The History of London, Victorian England, WW II, Egyptian History, and The Salem Witch Trials.
Learning random things is part of the appeal of being a writer. I can indulge my varied interests and make it sound like there is a purpose beyond just being curious. I’ve studied psychics, suicide rates, poison methods, con-artist techniques, classic cars, history of the Titanic disaster, physics, and museum break-ins. Some of the details have been used in books, others were researched and eventually rejected. One thing I love about librarians is that you can contact them and ask something like: Does arsenic have a flavour? and they don’t even blink.
Research goes beyond reading. Writers have taken road trips, tried different foods, learned to ski or shoot a semi-automic, or visited prison, all in an effort to have a sensory experience they can share with readers. No wonder writing is so much fun. There are very few occupations that let you learn weaponry one week and how to survive in the Alaskan wilderness with only a knife and a roll of dental floss the next.
No matter how much I enjoy research, I can honestly admit I’ve never been tempted to do this. This fellow asked his friend to shoot him in the leg so he could know how it felt to be shot. That would be one thing where I might just make the assumption that it would hurt a lot.
I’m currently thinking of taking the Espionage course. You never know when you might want to know more about spying. How about you? What do you want to learn about next?