When I started this website last year, I never expected it to get as far as it did. Not in terms of audience – which has been relatively small in the overall scheme of things. Maybe if I paid Facebook that $43 to reach however many thousand people it promises this time I’ll get somewhere… Nah, I’m happy as it is. But there is one point I’d like to focus on now.
When I started this, what I never expected is that I would have written so much. I have had friends and family amazed at the ‘insane amount’ of content they saw when flicking through the list of posts. What started out as, admittedly, a hobby and a way to write – something I just enjoyed doing – has now become a daily routine (with a few lapses).
I have written before about the reasoning behind why I write, and I am sure in a few months – when it has been active for a year – I’ll take the time to reflect properly on how things have panned out. But for this piece, the idea I want to encourage is research.
This will be obvious to anyone academically minded, or anyone who takes enough of an interest in a topic to look into it further, so I fear this may just be another take on a tired line of thought. Given its importance, however, I am not overly concerned by that. Part of researching is reinforcing what you already know.
One of the great benefits about leaving my writing so open-ended (that is, not constrained to any particular topic or even style) is the breadth of knowledge I have acquired while researching various topics. Whether it’s having two browser windows with multiple tabs open in each, reading books on a particular topic, or just keeping up with the news and current events, the information is invaluable.
The piece I wrote earlier today about Timor-Leste referred to information I had learned from news over the last few years, some piece by Noam Chomsky (I can’t remember which one, but it had to do with Indonesia’s invasion in 1975), and two books – Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in the Timor Sea and Island Off the Coast of Asia: Instruments of Statecraft in Australian Foreign Policy by Kim McGrath and Clinton Fernandes respectively. Both were insightful on the topic of Australia’s role and influence in Timor-Leste’s rather violent history.
That piece was approximately 850 words – quite a small number compared to the amount of prior knowledge and research that stands behind it. If you look at the number of references throughout Fernandes’ book alone, or any academic study of international affairs, you would realise that properly researching a topic enough to write anything substantial on it at all takes an immense amount of effort over quite and extended period of time.
I don’t at all intend to claim I’ve done similar amounts of research or reading, but merely want to hone in on that message – research is vital. Over the years I have been reading and keeping up to date on current affairs to the best of my ability, and I have picked up a lot of things that I otherwise would not have. As time goes on, the amount of information stacks up considerably. I certainly would not have been able to write 200 pieces about so many topics if I didn’t take the time to read and research things.
If there is one thing to take away from this rather ambling post, it’s that whatever topic you are most dedicated to – whether it be politics and history, like me with this site, or in any other work or hobby field – read about it. Learn about the history of it (yes, read about the history of history if you’d like! I’ve even written about that too) and how it applies today. Read about the latest technological discoveries, or the best business practices for the modern economy (ya filthy capitalist) if that’s what you’re into.
Not only will reading about what you are doing for work/enjoyment boost your knowledge of such things, but also your appreciation for it. I would not have written as much as I have if I didn’t.
Previous piece: Australia Owes Timor-Leste Reparations