I have to confess that I had to adapt the rules of the Writer's Challenge to my own diabolical purposes.
I am at the beginning of a new book that is a historical, so while I've tried to write actual prose, it just wouldn't come. I wrote up character descriptions, but they seemed thin. I needed to steep myself in the early to mid 19th century to get to know my protagonist and her world. So instead writing six out of seven days, I've been researching seven out of seven days. And instead of writing each day before I check my email, I've been limiting myself to checking four separate times throughout the day when my alarm clock interrupts me from note-taking or careening between Internet websites.
The result: I've only written about five pages - and its all synopsis, but I am firmly in the 19 century and is there anyone happier than a writer who has a brand new book starting to form in her head? (Except maybe a writer who has a brand new book completely written?)
At the Creative Brain workshop at The New England Crime Bake, author Shelley Carson called this the "absorb" method. I think of it as the percolating stage. But it's still hard for me to think of reading and highlighting and writing down notes as "work." For one thing, it's so much less of a struggle than writing, for another, it's hard to measure.
I'm wondering how everyone else measures or sets goals for the research phase of a book. And I also how the Writer's Challenge has worked this week for the rest of you. What are you successes and failures? Or your discoveries?