I've cracked it.
I've worked out the best form of procrastination!
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am in the process of writing a piece of Hard Science Fiction. Despite the somewhat serious setback I experienced a few weeks ago (see this entry for my tale of woe) I'm going to break 25k words tonight and I'm still enjoying writing it (that last part is pretty important - I have in the past forced myself to continue writing something I just wasn't enjoying anymore). It does, however, require a level of understanding of quantum mechanics.
I graduated with a degree in International Politics. I stopped studying Physics at AS Level for a reason.
So I have bought books. A lot of books. All deal with the basics of quantum mechanics, its history, all the leading theories (having them explained by different authors in a variety of different ways has been immensely valuable to my learning) and a couple focus on the area of application I am interested in: The Many Worlds Theory. All good, right?
Well, not really.
It's really impacted upon my productivity.
This process has been really enjoyable, don't get me wrong, I have expanded my understanding of a fundamental area of science and my life is richer for it; appreciating just how amazing the universe is does something wonderful for perspective of day-to-day issues, I'll tell you that much. It has, however, proved to be somewhat of a rabbit hole. I want to keep studying, over writing. There are many things that just don't click with me and I want them to, I want to understand it beyond a level probably necessary for my novel. I keep telling myself that it'll make the science in it better in the long run and, yes, it may do but for the basic draft that I am trying to write it is hardly necessary.
So, yeah. Try researching a novel. It'll really help if you don't want to commit energy to, you know, actually writing it.
On reflection, I really don't need this depth of understanding as my novel is moving away from some of the themes I thought it was going to be focused on. I just went back and read the beginning, and can see how far the story has deviated from where I set out. This is natural and organic and all those good things, but it further proves my point that I don't need to be spending so much time reading books on quantum mechanics. It is following a slightly different theme, bringing in elements of philosophy and psychology (I did a fair amount of "research" in those areas for another project, now collecting digital dust on my hard drive) to set this story apart from other, similar projects. Perhaps it is time to accept that maybe this won't end up being the book I wanted it to be. Maybe it won't be Hard Science Fiction at all, in the end.
Oh, there is a temptation to bin it on that basis alone. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is hard to realise and then accept that the thing you had your heart set on making just isn't coming together. I have wanted to write hard sci fi for a while, dedicated time to researching it, but now find myself meandering off into areas that I didn't expect it to. But then, I have to remind myself that that's okay and I can keep on writing this to see what it turns out to be. Who knows, it might organically come back to what it originally was meant to be. I'm still pushing through the nagging sense of disappointment and frustration, but, as I said before, it is going too well to just throw away.
Well, for now at least.
Anyway - pro tip: book research. A great way to not get stuff done but how to pretend to yourself and others that you are getting stuff done.