As a writer of fantasy and science fiction, worldbuilding is a necessary part of the writing process. It's not enough to come up with some characters and a plot. You have to craft an entire world around them. In secondary world fantasy, this can be a long, time consuming process. The same goes for galaxy-spanning space operas. There's a little less in urban fantasy and near-future science fiction.
Some of my favorite books are the ones with the most interesting worlds. Take Brandon Sanderson, for example. At times, his books can drag a bit, but he's still one of my favorite authors because his worlds are fascinating. His magic systems are creative and unique. The setting comes alive as a character. I look at these aspects of Sanderson's writing and wish I could do the same.
However, I struggle with worldbuilding. I often find it boring. When a story pops into my head, I just want to start writing it. I'm too impatient to sit down and worry about the details of the world. At the same time, though, I know those little details will really bring the world, and the story, to life. These are the feelings that make me doubt my choice of genres. Fantasy and science fiction are my favorite genres to read, and I love writing them, but worldbuilding can really prove a stumbling block.
To all the other speculative fiction authors out there, how do you worldbuild? Do you write a detailed description of your world beforehand? Or do you build elements of the world as they become relevant to the story?
I lean toward the latter, but I often find I don't have enough set in place to get any feeling for the world myself. In my Armoth Cycle, I didn't do much worldbuilding, and it was obvious the first time around. By the time I finished the series, I had gotten a feel for the world, and I've applied that feel to my current rewrite of the series.
Does anyone else wish there were a quicker way to worldbuild?