Running a research project has more to do with a marathon than a sprint. Most good runners can nearly run forever if they avoid injuries and they stay hydrated and motivated.
Similarly, a creative worker can work nearly forever on a topic. A novelist can write 10 books in a saga. A researcher can produce 25 papers on a narrow topic. How do they do it?
- You must not lose focus. It is easy to get interested in the a brand new idea and drop your current work. You should not change your focus without careful consideration.
- You need a constant flow of new ideas. You should never focus exclusively on a narrow topic. You need the white noise. You need smart people making you think about alternatives. You need to draw analogies on what others are doing.
- You must keep your job and sufficient funding to keep going. Obviously. Fortunately, many research topics require little more than your own salary.
- You need to keep challenging yourself. The human mind degrades when subjected to routine tasks.