When writing it is vital, as every author knows, to research every small detail. That is the part I find the most laborious. You’re in the middle of a scene, everything is going perfectly and then you need to find out whether the moon would be full or half or new in the middle of July in South Africa at 1am. It affects the dynamics of the plot and if you get it wrong – whoa! As a librarian I have access to countless fantastic volumes of information, but at 11pm at night accessibility is paramount, which is why I love the internet and access to sites like the British Library, Science Museum, BBC History, Greenwich Observatory… the list is endless. The one I access all the time is, of course, the OED. If you’re writing, I strongly suggest subscribing to a dictionary or thesaurus site. You really don’t want to mis-use a crucial word. Or speall spell it wrong.
I know, I know, you can get it edited; but seriously, a bit of professionalism and pride in your work shows your character and your prospective agent will love you for your attention to detail (or so I’ve been told).
Well, I wrote my first book with very little preliminary research and had to go back and amend so many things that were incorrect. Small changes can make huge differences to vital clues in the plot. So, my advice is to research, check your research and check it again. Try and access several different media for information (books, journals, newspapers, radio, internet). We live in an information saturated world so there is absolutely no excuse.