Monday, April 20, 2009

Perfectly Procrastinating

In a case of "good news, bad news" I have a bit of a perfectionist's streak. And a slightly compulsive attitude towards a number of things... though in a perfect world I would be able to extend that compulsion towards writing, but it only seems to work toward organizing my work space. It's not as if I have count step or fence posts or the like - and I have nothing but utmost sympathy for those people who's lives are so controlled by their compulsions that they have to do that sort of thing to the exclusion of being able to function normally.

In the good news aspect, this means I tend to do enough research to get the details right. (When I'm not just making it up, that is.) The bad news is, I have a tendency to over-research. Not just in my fiction, where I can spend hours looking into something that, if I was being honest with myself and my craft, is only going to briefly feature in what I'm writing and probably merited only a cursory 15 minute investigation... or a question posted to a forum to let other people find the answer for me.

Of course, then I have to deal with all the smart-alecks who proceed to chastise me for my lack of researching skills. Instead of praising me for my ability to delegate, which is what they should be doing.

But it also impacts the non-fiction paying work I do. I tend to over-research, even when I know I have enough to get the job done. It's not even a question of doing the job versus doing the job well, it's just that I get into this mode where I want to know the answers to the point where I sufficiently feel as though I have the authority to actually write about a subject.

I suppose that part of the job description of being a writer is, by default, being a person who ends up knowing a little bit about everything, especially if you write on a diverse number of topics. There is certainly no call to become an expert on any of them, especially when most of the time all you really have to do is consult the experts. Yet sometimes I seem to feel as though I need to know more than I know I really do, and that feeling can make a simple assignment into a much more complex one.

I suspect some of it too is that it becomes a way to procrastinate, without feeling like I'm procrastinating. I'm technically accomplishing something, even if that something isn't putting words on paper. Or far beyond what the words on the paper will need.

I guess I'll have to some research on that.

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