Here's my dilemma.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?
As with any question, the left brain immediately seeks the logical answer, in this case going for the mathmatics.
But wait, there's more.
There's that dastardly IF thrown in so nonchalantly.
So does a woodchuck chuck wood or not?
And what is chucking wood, anyway?
So here I go off to my favorite search engine.
And how did anyone come up with the moniker of search engine? Did it have anything to do with siege engines?
It leads down the most interesting avenues and to a few cul-de-sacs and dead-ends.
My little brain is filled with odds and ends. Does everything end up in a story? Of course not. Barely a smidgen (technical term) lands there. Some side trips - like to the siege engine site - never do. But it all enriches your base of knowledge and primes the pump.
The other day I had to wake myself up twice while slogging through a 15-page Coast Guard human resources publication about officer promotions. After I read it, I talked to a real live Coastie to find out what sort of duty stations would have been available at that time.
Time spent = most of a morning.
The reason? To figure out where my protagonist had been in her career at a certain point in her life.
How much will be in the manuscript? Maybe a sentence or two scattered throughout.
Here's the thing.
Don't scrimp or begrudge your research time. It all pays off in the end, one way or another.
On the flip side, set limits for yourself. Like the siege engine. Recognize you're off on a tangent and allow yourself one every once in a while. Just don't let the tangents catapult you too far away from your main focus.
Unless you land in a field of goodies, of course. Then pick them all.