I do a bit of research on the settings and/or institutions/organisations before I start writing the first draft. Then as I write the first draft I note all the things I need to research so I have a list after the first draft. Sometimes I need to stop writing and do a bit of research if I'm not sure the plot works - usually because I don't know something - but I keep this at a minimum. Then as I'm writing the second draft I research just as Danny does, as I go along.
I write the first draft by hand and type future drafts. It's rare that I don't have to research anything, makes me realise how little I know! But I make sure to set my books in environments I would love to know more about and that makes the research more fun than chore. My current WIP is set partly in the theater and while I've dabbled in amateur theater I know nothing about the professional life so I'm studying and learning as I go. Such fun!
I would say only research as much as you have to. That sounds bla bla but it helps to stop me going off on a tangent. As it is, I always have to do way more research than ends up in the book, just to get a proper feel of the world I'm writing about. In my last book (unpublished) I spent a year researching Italian politics then a few drafts along it all became unnecessary! If that book ever gets published you'll learn nothing about Italian politics from it ;)
Hi Sarah. I was a professional actor for 20 years (between 1978 and 1998), working mostly in theatre in the UK. I've been out of the business for a while now, so my experience won't be current, I'm afraid, but if I can help in any way with general info or answers to specific questions please feel free to message me and I'll do my best! 🙂