Research & Writing: How Much is Too Much?

I’ve been blogging and working on the novel this morning.

And by that I mean I’ve been reading other blogs, adding other authors’ books to my Amazon wishlist, and getting wildly inspired by other things without actually accomplishing much of anything for myself.

Sometimes I just get so excited about everything I want do to that I don’t know where to start. I’m prone to starting one thing, only to end up working on something completely unrelated. And it always, always ends with snacks and a Pinterest binge,

Sound familiar? Please tell me that sounds familiar…

Anyhow, it’s just one of those days. I start with great intentions, but then I spend the day bogged down in research. I’m reading other blogs, researching social media strategies, discovering the origins of fifty potential names for my next protagonist (seriously, sometimes you just have to choose a name regardless of what it means). I’m reading up on publishing trends and filling out pretty printables to keep my posting and writing schedules on track.

All planning. All researching.

No writing.

Except…wait. I thought the whole point of all of this was writing. I’m writing a novel because I love to write. I started a blog because I love to write. So why am I doing anything but?

Sometimes, I think the sneaky little monster behind too much planning and research is fear. At least, it is for me. I get these great ideas, and then I get so afraid of failure, so afraid of blending into everything else and not making a difference that I don’t pursue those great ideas. I let my insecurity take over. I use something good (research and planning) as an excuse to not do something great (write).

Research and planning are completely necessary. You need research your settings, contexts, and characters. You need to plan your plot and write an outline (believe me–I’ve already learned my lesson on that). And yeah, you need to dedicate time to planning and keeping yourself organized on a regular basis.

But when it’s keeping you from making progress and moving forward, then it’s too much.


You’re stuck in the research phase of your book and you can’t get out.

Potential Solutions:

  • Develop a strategy for your research. Do you want to do it all in one huge chunk, or space it out over time?
  • Set a time limit for each research session. Maybe it’s two whole days before you begin your book. Maybe it’s one hour every morning before you start writing. Maybe it’s at 2 a.m. when you’re awake and crying into your cat’s fur because why the hell did you decide to be a writer anyway? (Accounting really was safer.)
  • Make a list of everything you need to know to write your book. (Yes, there may be some unexpected details that pop up later, but you can’t worry about what you don’t know yet.) Now check your list. Do you have all of that information? Then get started.
  • Clarify your “why”: Why are you writing this book? If you can’t answer that question, then no amount of research is going to help you.
  • Try writing longhand for 30 minutes. It’s not as efficient, but it will allow you to close the laptop and step away from the cat videos. (I know, I need to watch cat videos as research for my book, too.)
  • Google “how to stop researching” and then follow and read every link on the first twelve pages. (Just kidding. Don’t do that.)
  • Figure out what’s keeping you from starting. Is it fear? Insecurity? Overwhelm? Self-doubt? Target the emotion behind your procrastination so you can work through it and write that book.
  • Take a break from the whole thing. Take an hour, a day, a weekend. Get some sleep. Whatever it takes to get your head clear and your hands typing again.

Don’t let research get in the way of your writing. Sometime’s it’s better to stop overthinking and start doing.

Do you ever have days like this? What do you do to get back on track and start writing again? Leave a comment below or join the Ladies in Read on Pinterest to share your best writing advice and inspiration. 

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Research and Writing: How Much is Too Much? | | writing research, effective research, writing tips, writing a book

About Meghan

Meghan is a novelist, blogger, and copyeditor fueled by coffee and red lipstick. When she's not typing away you can find her reading, organizing, or watching old sitcoms and superhero movies with her husband, cat, and baby-to-be.

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