Forgive me if I seem loopy, but I've been up since 4:30 this morning doing research on Scotland for a novella that I'm releasing in November, and I think my battery is about to die. I'm not really a morning person. It's fun when I get a burst of energy and can get moving early, but it tends to fizzle soon, and then off I go for a nap.
Back to research. We all do it. Some people excel at research and some suck. I'm more on the sucky end of things. I love exploring and learning new things, but usually I end up going off on little interesting side trails that have nothing to do with what I started looking for. I get easily distracted. But it's fun, kind of like a treasure hunt, until I figure out that I've spent valuable writing time on the trail of treasure that has nothing to do with my writing or the initial question I started with. Take for instance this morning. I'm looking to find out what the Beauly Scotland area looked like in the mid 19th century. I found some fun, cool stuff, then I stumbled on a blog by this girl who married a Scot and toured Scotland. Before long, I'm looking at wedding pictures and cute bed and breakfasts.
I'm very visual and need an overall picture that I can use, but I also need clear, simple facts that form nice building blocks to hold the picture up. When I get back on track, I find sorting through the research to figure out what's authentic and how it fits into my story can feel like a big muddled mess. Did I mention that I'm terrible with analysis? This leads to a lot of frustration in addition to the fun little side trips.
I'm always intrigued by how much or how little research goes into a book. How do you research and how do you apply what you've learned?