rt.free wrote: And one thing I have to admit is in the last few months, as I have continued to write, it has seemed to me to be far more 'coherent', as if I was bringing together all my previous thoughts and writing together in a new way. Maybe that indicates that writing from scratch is the best approach at this point. It is just hard, since whenever I read through my 'notes', wherever I turn, I really, really like how it sounds, well, 80% of it. I guess that was why I also never thought of it as research, I was just so darn certain the book was there!!!!
Your brain has been hard at work behind the scenes...
It may turn out that large chunks of your research notes are usable. Hooray! But stepping back and re-evaluating is still the best way to decide if that's the case.
Fiction writers are often told "kill your darlings," but the same idea applies to non-fiction. Don't let your attachment to a particularly appealing section drag down the book as a whole. In your case, with 400,000 words, it's quite likely that some of them might spin out into articles, blog posts, maybe the start of another book. As you sort out the materials relevant to *this* book, it's easy enough (yay, Scrivener!) to create folders or keywords for things that you're setting aside for associated projects.
I often use Scapple for this sort of thing. As I visually cluster related topics from my notes together, it becomes clearer which ideas "fit" and which don't.