I am a planner in the extreme. I tend to drift toward fantasy oriented novels when writing; it's just what comes out. This means that I do quite a bit of planning for the world that the story will be set in. I know that's not a bad thing, but I have noticed that I have a tendency to get bogged down in specific events - especially historical events. I'll find myself describing entire battles or diplomatic missions or even important local events as though they were the story itself - and almost none of that is ever going to even show up in the story!
I really enjoy that preparation, but eventually my notes become so unwieldy, it's hard to actually sit down and write the story while keeping it all straight. Not to mention that it's kind of wasting time when I could be writing.
My questions are: Is there a helpful way to gauge when "enough is enough"? How do I put an end to this world builder's syndrome I've got? Or at least keep it in check? Does anyone have any advice on how know when it might be necessary to do some more fleshed-out preparation and when it's just wasting time (and accumulating too many notes)?
By the way, my average preparation results in something on the order of 150,000+ words (the most I've ever written is 300,000). In other words, I consistently find myself writing a novel before I even write my novel. And I know it's hindering more than helping me. I just don't even realize I'm doing it most of the time until it's too late.
[And, of course, less than a month after asking this question, there is a wonderful post which answers most all of my questions on Patricia Wrede's blog: http://pcwrede.com/blog/obsessive-overbuilding/ - it is well worth reading if you're interested in this topic.]