Sometimes I think of world building as a battle. Because I can preplan it all I want to, write out massive word documents explaining governments and food production down to the last boring detail. Spend hours answering really specific world building questions from a massive list*. And still, as I’m drafting, world building flaws will inevitably crop up. This can be very distracting. I have to decide if it’s actually an issue or if it’s just me being ridiculously overpicky with myself. And then if I decide it’s an issue, I have to figure out how to fix it. And think about if this changes anything else. And fix that too. When I’m reading, poor world building distracts me more than almost anything else, so of course when I’m writing, I want to make sure my own world building holds up.
But obsessing about it can become quite a distraction from the drafting process. First drafts can be strange beasts. When it’s going well, it’s going really well, but when you get stuck, fixating on the details is a great way to procrastinate while convincing yourself that you are not procrastinating. At least this is how it goes for me.
So sometimes, when I find myself on the internet for the millionth time, researching if some tiny little thing no one will ever care about is possible, I just tell myself to stop. I ignore my crappy world building, except to leave myself small notes about checking things later, and I plow onward. And then I have a draft. Maybe I have to overhaul parts of it because I realize that something doesn’t make sense, but often, I realize that I was stressing too much over nothing and I’ve actually done just fine.
In the end, the hope is that your world building all comes together so perfectly that people marvel over your genius for years to come, but if at first something is just not quite right and it’s keeping you from writing, let yourself be okay with it--for now.
*I have never actually answered all the questions on that list. But I have used it before, because sometimes even just reading the questions reminds me of things I hadn’t thought to consider.