Most people think writers just write. We put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and are then off and running.
It doesn't quite work that way.
Writers have to take pre-writing steps whether it's researching, outlining, developing characters, taking notes and other such things. That's true of anything, good planning often leads to a good result.
Since my goal is to write about Fenway Park as it approaches its centennial this year, that means research. Research on Boston, research on the team and research on the world at large really. That way when I tell the story of a two girls bonding over Bill Lee's eccentricities in the midst of busing as the Sox are making their pennant run in '75, the reader doesn't need to know the details of the time to have an understanding of what makes the characters bond.
I have spent this last weekend before NaNoWriMo bookmarking pages of local and team history, searching through the online Boston Public Library photo archives and other sites. Along with the historical searching, I'm also going through my writers' resources such as on-line dictionaries and style manuals to make sure those links are along side the historical and sports links.
That's not counting going through my book shelves for resource books to have on hand when I get stuck. Which is probably why I don't panic the way some folks do at the prospect of writing 1600+ words a day for a month.