A couple of months ago, I spent a whole afternoon constructing a plastic boat with a hollow tube poking up through the middle, just to see what the water in the tube would do. I'd read about moon pools, but I wanted to see it for myself.
It was all for the cause of my own fictional ship, one of the central elements in my story. I knew I wanted it to have a sort of hollow gear chamber in the middle, connected to the water, and I knew I'd seen things like that in movies, but the questions kept growing. Should it be pressurized? What did it need to function without internal pressure? How much of the rest of the ship (and the people who lived on it) would be below the water line? A bit of Googling for answers led me down a geeky rabbit hole, including the startling discovery that the same people who believe that the remains of Noah's Ark are preserved on a mountaintop somewhere also believe that it had a structure not far off from the one I'd given my ship. Including the moon pool.
Before I knew it, I was cutting a hole in the base of a plastic food container and cannibalizing the plastic tube from the pump-top of an empty bottle of moisturiser.
It was a productive day. No, seriously. I may not have put many words to the (virtual) page, but I did gain a new and concrete understanding of the world I was creating, one that led to a complete restructuring of my fictional society, and even of my plot. That little boat floating in my kitchen sink kicked off a whole creative revolution.
Today has kind of been like that, only without the arts and crafts. I hit a point in the story where I absolutely had to understand some of the central rules to my fictional world before I could move forward. Four hours later, I've got a head full of harmonics theories, musical notation, and historical tuning techniques for keyboard instruments, and it's blowing my mind a little.
I freaking love days like this.