I think one thing I was really unprepared for when I commenced this work was the relationship between the core project, and the research process. At present, I spend more time reading about research techniques than I do writing, or otherwise exploring my field. Always, this feels wretched, like procrastination.
Dan McLaughlin, my Animation Professor at UCLA, a man who endowed me with the only bon mots I ever retained because of their precision, once told our class to "never confuse activity with achievement". This, of courser, is genius, and I knew immediately what he was talking about. It really is possible to tie oneself up into the most complex of knots, while feeling as though you are working incredibly hard, all the while taking no more steps towards your goal than if you reclined on a sofa in a dressing gown and ate bon bons. It's a perverse form of procrastination, but it is procrastination just the same. It's sort of like a kinky, sophisocated, super-charged Type-A kind of procrastination. One which is born of never wanting to look the concern of your topic (or project) squarely in the eye, and engage it.
That was a particularly useless digression because this isn't my problem. I'm not even really sure I have a problem, though in this isolation I wouldn't know. The fact is, I need the information about the research methods. Much of it is new to me. Each new thought, each new consideration, and each new problem requires me to dig up some information on how to handle the information, and how to proceed. I get a feeling, like a snake eating it's own tail, that I'm in an infinite cycle of learning about the learning before any of the learning can be accomplished.
I suspect I feel this so acutely because my time in general is so limited that I want to feel as though I take meaty, notable bites out of the various things I know I need to do, but once I get into the reading about how to do this, or what is required to prove that... well, I just don't have time to apply it yet.
I hope the balance will shift, and I will have more time to spend on the work, instead of the "hows" involved in getting the work done. Over time, I may need less of the instructional content, but right now it feels like walking on a treadmill - lots of work, but going nowhere.