Over the years I’ve had many conversations with aspiring writers. […] A significant fraction of these random aspiring writers would talk about stories that they were working on but couldn’t quite figure out how to finish. And once I got into the details with them, it would eventually emerge that they hadn’t actually written any of the story. It was an idea they had and which they had talked about at length with friends. In many cases they would talk about the files they had full of descriptions of characters and an outline of the history of the world, but when pressed, they would admit that they hadn’t actually written a single word of the story itself.
Planning and thinking and even doodling about a story, gathering research and writing up background information are important tasks which are often necessary to the writing process, but none of that is the actual story.
fontfolly on getting the words down.
He goes on to give some advice, which I think solid and which basically boils down to, “Stop calling your procrastination ‘worldbuilding’ and get to writing!”
I’m talked before about how I think a lot of worldbuilding–specifically, mechanically focused worldbuilding–is overrated. Sketch out just enough of what you need, then let your characters tell you the rest as they go along.