RNA polymerase (RNAP) is the central enzyme of gene expression, which transcribes DNA to RNA. All cellular organisms synthesize RNA with highly conserved multi-subunit DNA-dependent RNAPs, except mitochondrial RNA transcription, which is carried out by a single-subunit RNAP. Over 60 years of extensive research has elucidated the structures and functions of cellular RNAPs. In this review, we introduce a brief structural feature of bacterial RNAP, the most well characterized model enzyme, and a novel experimental approach known as “Time-dependent soak-trigger-freeze X-ray crystallography” which can be used to observe the RNA synthesis reaction at atomic resolution in real time. This principle methodology can be used for elucidating fundamental mechanisms of cellular RNAP transcription.