Sometimes when you’re writing, there’s something you need to happen, or be mentioned, that you don’t actually know anything about. You could just write whatever you imagine it being, but someone’s going to notice. So, you research it. Just a quick search on the internet to answer that question and make your scene believable. Then three hours later you know far too much about harvesting wheat and have compiled a folder full of images representing your main characters’ armor and weapons and exactly no new words written. It’s a slippery slope.
Researching while you’re writing is important. If people know what’s happening isn’t realistic, it isn’t believable, it ruins the atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to build. You should know what you’re talking about. The more you know about the location or the time period or the activity you’re writing about, the more believable your story can become. And that’s a good thing.
But we all know too much of a good thing can be bad thing. It’s easy to tell yourself you’re jumping down that rabbit hole of research to create a good story, but actually you’re just finding a ‘productive’ way to procrastinate doing the writing. It’s ok to leave a note in your draft to [insert something about leather making] or mark a bit to replace when you can’t remember the name of that fancy curved sword.
I love researching, because the things I write about are things I find interesting, and it’s exciting for me to learn about. But sometimes I get carried away with reading all the fascinating things I find and forget to actually finish the draft. This it, of course, different if you’re writing non-fiction instead of fiction.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been distracted by while researching?