Stuck in the Research Phase

I have to write a history piece about World War II for a website. I’m excited because it is a topic I I am really interested in. Also, it is my first piece for them and I really want to do a good job – it is a nice paycheck and I’d like to keep writing for the site. I am hopeful that a well-written piece now will help me get some repeat business from them.

However, I’ve got a problem: I’m stuck in the research phase and my deadline is quickly approaching. My goal, as always, is to write something well-researched and insightful. The well-researched part is not going to be an issue. In fact, there is a wealth of material on the war – documentaries, newspaper pieces from around the world, books, diaries, letters, and interviews. I’ve essentially been overwhelmed by the amount of information available.

For example, I was going through articles last night to create a timeline for what I needed. I plan to use the timeline to guide me through the topics I have to hit as per the guidelines. Plotting out the information led me to some specific divisions that fought in the battles along that line. That somehow led to me staying up all night reading a book about the 101st Airborne. The book was really good and I enjoyed every moment of reading it. However, it wasn’t the most helpful as far as getting the timeline done, nor was this division part of the assignment I am being paid for.

I am not really sure how to approach this piece so I just keep poking around and gathering information. Because I’m writing about something that has been covered in just about every manner possible, it’s hard to find a way to contribute. I want to put my information together in a way that is slightly different than what is already out there, making it worthwhile for people to read whether they are history buffs and know a lot about the subject already or are neophytes looking for specific information. I am finding that to be a bit of a challenge, to be sure. What can I say that hasn’t been said before about a war that ended long before I was even born? I don’t know, but I have to try.

At this point, I’ve got notes upon notes upon notes. If I kept everything tacked up on my walls and not in my notebooks, my place would look just like those obsessive murderers’ apartments you see on tv – covered floor to ceiling with newspaper pieces, photos, and maps.  I know I just have to put everything down and start writing. Not on this blog, either, but on the actual piece I’m being paid to write. I’m going to give it another go. Wish me luck.