The research phase is where you form the mental structure of your writing.
The research phase can be broken down into these steps:
- formulate your goal
- choose your subject
- choose key ideas
- observe relations
- establish structure
- ocean of context
In the first step you formulate your goal.
What do you get out of this work? Is it money, pleasure, formulation, or clarity? What does the reader get out of it? Knowledge, power, breathing space? Answering these questions with clarity helps you keep focused.
Formulate your goal so you become certain of it. This is your motivation; this is what gets the writing done. If things get rough, remind yourself of your goal.
In the second step you choose your subject.
The subject forms the center of your writing. If you are writing non-fiction, let the title state the subject. These few words maintain the balance of the whole work. Everything goes in here and out of here in concentric circles. The center, upon which you can build.
Your subject may come naturally after formulating your goal. If it doesn't, have a mini-brainstorm session until it does. The time you spend on finding the most clearly defined subject is well worth it, because it will be the object of much reflection later.
In the third step you brainstorm.
This step is where your skill in assuming the attitude of openness comes most useful. You have your goal, you have your subject - let the exploration begin! Let your mind fly! Thinking is optional. Explore everything!
If your goal and your subject are most clearly defined, your mind is most likely choke-full of ideas! You probably can't even actively 'think' of every idea because they come so fast. It doesn't matter. Let them through you and become a piece of you. When the waves have settled, you feel like you know and can everything.
If the ideas are not washing over you, return to the first phase and work on your attitude of openness. The ideas are there, you just have to open yourself up to them.
In the fourth step you choose the key ideas.
From the ocean of possibilities these ideas presented you, you have to decide on the key ideas. These ideas form the beginnings of a metaphysical structure - the outline of your writing, if so you wish. Again, it's good to formulate these ideas simply and clearly.
In the fifth step you observe relations.
The ideas you chose inter-relate somehow. Your task is to observe those relations. Do they fit? How do they feel? Where do they lead you? Play with the ideas! Let play and observation reveal the basic structure (the skeleton) of your work. Add, delete, smash, create, cut, enable, change. What are the colors? Is the flow to your liking? Is the structure sturdy enough for further development?
When you are satisfied, move on.
In the sixth step you establish the structure.
You chose the key ideas and explored where they lead you. It's time to solidify, to decide on structure. Don't cast in stone, but do make an informed decision about the contents and the interrelation of your writing.
Solid. Firm. Durable. A 'hard' thought, a materia among the spiritual. This is the form, the structure of the writing to be.
In the seventh step you create a dynamic.
You have completed the steps so far and created an metaphysical image of your work. It's nice, isn't it? If 'nice' is enough, skip this step. If 'beautiful' is what you're after, continue.
A dynamic is force, energy, motion - strength. By applying the phrase "that which kills you makes you stronger" to the structure you created, it can become dynamic.
Unleash hell upon the structure of ideas you have worked so carefully on. Let everything 'bad' you can imagine; the antithesis of your ideas wash over your work. Let it absorb your work into nothingness...
Then - observe your work rise like a phoenix.
In the eight step you let go into the ocean of context.
You visited heaven in the 'brainstorm' step and trod down to hell in the 'dynamic' step. The image of your work is now complete. It is a carefully constructed whole which can stand alone and has the ability to interact.
Let it go.
Congratulations, you have completed the research phase! Half the work is done and weren't even required to write down a single word. The essence and the unfolded essence of the writing has been created.
If you have done these steps correctly (and you are the judge of that), everything you write down regarding your chosen subject will be accurate. That's when the sequential approach works - when you're already done.
If ours were a telepathic society, you could just take this grand concept you developed, and pluck it into another's mind. Since we still need 'harder' material for communication, projections are necessary.