Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Steve has posted about the danger of wasting too much time on "research" when you should be getting the damn words down on screen. By research I think he means such things as I did yesterday, when I spent 20 minutes trying to find out whether Russelville, Arkansas is a direct northern drive from San Antonio or whether you have to go more northeast. Creative writers can sometimes be at their most creative when they're finding ways to avoid writing. I've done it myself, and my problem is compounded by the fact that I do write a lot of non-fiction where research is often the biggest allocation of time.

I do allow myself to do some research as I'm working on a fictional piece, but I use quick sources such as Wikipedia and put in marks to indicate that I need to check these things more closely later. The internet has been such a boon to researchers (although you have to be careful of its "facts" sometimes), and for me has also increased the fun level of that research. It's so easy to click another link, follow another trail to another fascinating tidbit. But down that way lies madness... or, uhm, at least procrastination.

In other news, both my new home computer and my new office computer are up and running and all is well with my little world. Now, if I can just keep from "researching" all those new bells and whistles that I'll never need.


Steve Malley said...


Exactly! I once spent over an hour trying to find the growth rate of kauri trees (really slow, but how slow, exactly?), until I realized it was just an unimportant sidebar about how they sure did grow slow, didn't they.

I also play too much Minesweeper while 'thinking'...

Michelle's Spell said...

This is really a temptation for a writer! I think I've heard it called Rapture of the Deep, where you lose yourself in all that beautiful detail. I try and keep myself from it, but it's not easy.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I try to keep my research of details to a minimum. Then again, I've never written a novel, only short stories.

Sidney said...

The Internet, I think, is a blessing and a curse. I catch myself spending way too much time agonizing over words and phrases and Googling alternatives as well as minute details.

I do find especially for horror and fantasy fiction that research fuels or triggers creativity.

For my first book I had a Dake's Annotated Reference Bible with extensive notes and lists on what angels and fallen angels could do, based on interpretations of biblical verses. I drew ideas for a lot of action on those factoids.

Research can also fuel more research, however. Each thread leads to something else and it's seductive.

I find it is good to separate research periods from writing periods. And I'm rambling again. I'm outta here.

Erik Donald France said...

Multi-tasking has never been more frenzied. But I like it. I usually mix it up, but you're right about creative procrastination.