Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Paralysis by Analysis

I'd love to credit that title to its proper author but I have no idea where I heard it.

It describes me perfectly. When I was actively designing, I'd find myself straightening my desk, aligning my icons, sharpening pencils, just generally putting it all off. Even though I was interested in the project, I had this immense hesitation. Too many times the actual work too far less time than I had projected: I had wasted so much worry and procrastinated so long that I could have been done and moving on to the next project. I knew that, but did it anyway, project after project.

Sometimes the time drain was more sneaky: I'd decide I needed more research on a period style, or even locate the specifications on an oddball item, just to be "thorough". That was just an excuse though, to delay the actual design work. Strangely enough, I do the same thing when I need to balance my checkbook: I'd decide I need to straighten the bills, organize them in labelled file folders, log them into Excel (you get the picture). Everything but actually balancing the checkbook.

So now, my current paralysis is on research. I'm working on a novel.

(Pausing here so you can chuckle to yourself. Go on. I know. Feel free.)


I want my novel to be accurate. It takes place in the U.S. but mostly in the U.K. Some actual historic events are referred to, and then there's the action of my characters. Problem is, I find myself digging into the research too much and writing too little. I purchased books on, no joke, the wildlife of Northern England (my setting), birds of the British Isles, plants and grasses of England, "Brit-speak", medieval warfare, walks of the Lake District, hiking paths of Northern England, actual road maps, Icelandic history, Reykjavik scenery, the history of the Long-Bow, etc etc etc. Add to that the books I've purchased on learning to write, and so far Amazon is the only one getting anywhere with this.

So how much is actually necessary? Do I need real street names to make it seem authentic? Does the reader really need to know (or care) about all those little things? I have no idea. I know in my own reading I love all the little details (you know me and my Winton!). Does detailed equal boring? How do I get past this?

I need to go balance the checkbook.

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