One of worst things about my 5-9 (or 9-5 for some) and my student life, is it tires me out. I get physically and mentally drained. My head tightens up and I have to take breaks. I actually burn out after a few hours. Hence the 5-9.
As a writer, I never feel like this. I can sit at my laptop from morning until night, or get down 10-12k words in a single session and not feel like I've worked at all. But my time is restricted and when I'm physically and mentally burnt out and when getting the words down isn't an option the writer in me still needs to work.
Where else can you watch TV and movies, listen to music, or read magazines and books and still call it research?
TV and Movies help the mind create mental pictures of situations I've never experienced myself. For example, the television show Touched by an Angel helps the imagination figure out how my Agents of Devine Intervention can guard the lives of their clients. And the Movie Marley and Me gave me an insight into the world of canine ownership as well as bringing back some incredibly painful memories over the death of my cat Kiara, that I have brought into Valentina Secrets.
I draw a great deal of inspiration from music. Lyrics mean a lot to me and sometimes I pull a deeper understanding of a character because a particular song speaks to me about the character at that particular moment of their story. Duffy's I'm Scared instantly reminded me of Meg's situation in A Fairytale Ending? and Kelly Clarkson's You Can't Win speaks of Myleigh's awkwardness in Fake it to Make it?
The most important relaxing research, I think has to be the reading. Reading helps a writer to become a better writer. Magazines are a valuable source of information about what's selling, how to sell, techniques, tips, and books ... well... they're just fabulous source of everything. Characterisation, plot, narrative, speech, foregrounding. structure ... I could go on and on. I read a lot within the romance genre and the romantic comedy/chick lit/women's fiction genre because it helps me understand the conventions of the genre that I write. But I also like to read outside this genre, Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, Martina Cole, JK Rowling are all on my list of authors outside my usual reads. I also pick up lesser known authors and since being involved with writing communities online indie authors make my bookshelf too.
Many people tell me to take it easy, watch I'm not taking on too much as a student, writer and responsible adult but my writing life gives me the best of both worlds. I get to relax and research at the same time.