I spend the better part of most days reading and writing. In recreational reading alone, I average about 150 hours per month. (How do I know? My e-reader software actually tracks my reading hours.) When the time I spend reading things like paper books, the Interweebs, and work documents is factored in, I think the grand total would be closer to 275, or maybe even 300 hours a month.
Recently I performed a thought experiment on myself: if I had a whole day during which I had lost the ability to read and write, how would I spend it? What would I do all day?
The role of research in my writing depends on the piece.
My travel articles are all written during and after my visit to a particular place. Sometimes it seems like I am an integral part of the story, such as when I write either about people I have met or about the effect a place has had on me. On other occasions, the story can tell itself without my presence. I don’t or can’t add anything to the story and so the description of the place is enough. My research will consist of writing down my thoughts in a notebook and collating these words later when I return home.