I like research. Research is the best, most acceptable way to delay writing! ‘I can’t finish the article yet, I need more research.” “Not time to write that essay…I am still researching.” Research is very good at occupying my mind…and very bad for productivity.
The more you enjoy learning, the bigger the trap research becomes. Reading and learning is gratifying all by itself. It can easily expand to fill all the time you’ve set aside for writing on any given day.
Research is, of course, important. Actual research: looking up facts, running down sources, and getting background information is one aspect. However, research also includes feeding yourself on daily life, current events, good books, and deep thinking. Research is highly addictive.
The correlation that comes to mind is food addiction. How do you cure an addiction when you can’t walk away from it and leave it completely behind? You must research, at least on some level, in order to write. You must eat in order to live. And yet the means of writing, just as with the means of living, have addictive properties of their own.
Can you tell I’m currently trying to set a workable daily schedule to make sure I am producing on a daily basis? Looking over my time log for the last three days, I’ve seen an alarming proportion of my time going to research. It creeps into the time set aside for writing with alarming regularity. And yet, it must be done. Following up on one more link or one more referenced source is very hard to turn away from.
I’m not unusual in that I require some quiet time to process before I write. Trying to fit this into my current schedule is proving difficult. I can and have been moving directly from research to composition. I can see a clear decline in the reflective quality of my work as a result.
Awareness and acknowledgement are supposed to be the first steps in dealing with any addiction. Time to strategize. Tomorrow I will write first, then move to research, and back to writing again if the words are there. If that doesn’t work, I can try something else…or start creating a 12 step program for writers with this insidious addiction!