Regarding history and doing research, a lot of that went into developing my world. For example, I modeled my races after specific historical periods. I modeled human society after iron age patriarchal ones. They worship a solar deity who embodies all those values that we associate with iron age religions. The other races are much older and hold values similar to matriarchal societies of the bronze age. Theirs is a much “darker” culture, their goddess transcending categories like good and evil, therefore having characteristics of both. She is the giver and taker of life. They are closer to nature and worship the earth, and the moon too, I think. These races (elves and dwarves are among them) were displaced by a race of griffins who came from a mythical land across the sea and vanquished the dark goddess. These griffins later departed from the world, but they were preserved in mythology and are believed by humans to be the “great civilizers” who taught mankind how to live. They are also believed to be servants of the sun god I mentioned earlier. At any rate, at the time in which my story is set, the older races now live in seclusion (deep in the forests and underground). This submission of the older races to humanity represents a real historical “event,” when hunter-gatherers began to filter into Europe at the end of the Bronze Age and conquered the matriarchal planter societies that were already living there. This is also reflected in the defeat of the earth goddess by the sun god. Many actual myths are reflections of historical events, and my intent is to create the same effect here. And in developing the history of the world, I like to make use of variations of specific myths and legends, the idea being that those myths and legends are actually distant memories of the events and myths that I’m writing about. I’ve also drawn a lot from Celtic mythology. A lot of what I described above was inspired by the Irish Book of Invasions.
I love world-building and I can go on and on about this stuff. But my brain comes to a screeching halt when its time to actually write something. Here’s a concrete example of what I’m talking about. The humans in my world have a myth regarding a large earthquake that resulted in a large continent sinking into the sea (inspired by the Atlantis legend). This earthquake came about when a king in this land failed to make a required offering, something that was to be delivered across the sea to the aforementioned mythical land and used in a religious ceremony by the priests. This is what I know needs to happen, but what is this offering? What is the nature of this ceremony? And how does not doing it cause an earthquake? The minute I start pondering these questions, I am immediately frustrated. I want to do something a little more sophisticated than “God was pissed so he caused an earthquake.” To complicate matters even more, given that this is a myth held by people who I’ve modeled after Iron Age Europeans, I’m taking great care to evoke the same themes and symbols that we find in those mythologies, so I can’t just use whatever explanations pop into my head. I’ve already set constraints on what I can and can’t do, if that makes sense. Now, I have arrived at some satisfactory answers to the above questions, but they only create even more complicated questions that I have to figure out. Large scale world-building seems to just flow out of me, but the minute I try to answer specific questions, I find myself in a quagmire of half-formed ideas that I can’t navigate through.
EDIT: Tank, wow! Your generosity is much appreciated. I second what the others have said. No need to feel obligated. You can always blame it on the drugs.