Dr. Nicole Basaraba

Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities, TCD

Nicole Basaraba


All reading and no writing makes Nicole feel unproductive

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I’m currently in between writing projects at the moment. I finished the first draft of my novel and I decided to take a short break from writing fiction. I’m currently reading “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Mass and I’m starting to write down some ideas for my next novel.

Progress this week: I think I’ve chosen one of my three ideas to start working on for novel #2. This is good news, but it also means I need to get down to business and start writing character sheets, plot ideas, and get ready to write. I think this planning will take me the rest of this round of ROW80 to get a handle on. My plan is to finish reading this craft book and review books I’ve already read to find a strategy for plotting novel #2. Novel #1 was planned through a mixture of free writing and creating a skeleton plot. This time, I want to get more detailed in my planning before I start.

So I probably won’t be writing with fellow ROW80 participants during the #teamsprinty hour for a while, but I will drop in to cheer and maybe do some reading and note taking during that time. I miss writing fiction very much, its exciting and makes me feel productive. I think until I get to the writing stage again, I will continue to fell behind on my work. Perhaps when I start outlining and doing creative work, I will feel better.

Lauren Garafalo and Em tagged me to write 7 facts about my writing:

1) I’m not sure if you already know, but I write women’s fiction. Its my favorite genre, which I read A LOT of, as you can tell on the Book Reviews page of this blog.

2) My book ideas hit me randomly, when I’m walking to work or when I’m just about to go to sleep. But never in the shower (yet) as seems to be a common place for many writers.

3) The first half of the day tends to be the more creative part of the day for me, but because of working full time, I tend to write in the evenings.

4) What keeps me writing in the evenings is tuning in on Twitter and writing with the other participants in the Round of Words in 80 days challenge. We use the has tags #row80 and #teamsprinty for this hour of fun-filled writing. Even though we have lots of laughs, we usually have very high outputs.

5) I love movies. I’m luckily that I can still go see a movie and watch it as a viewer rather than a writer (the same is true of reading fiction). The second time around or if I really concentrate the first time, I watch it as a writer.

6) I write on my laptop in a Word Document. I’m thinking about using a fancy writer’s software, such as Scrivener, but I’ll have to see if this would help me or distract me from my writing.

7) I like to write one chapter or a certain number of scenes per sitting. For example, if I sit down to write for an hour, I will keep writing until I at least get to the end of a scene and if I finish a chapter before the hour is up and there is not much time left, I might wait until the next day to start the next chapter. I need a sense of completion each time a write and I don’t want to stop in the middle of something and then try to remember next time what I was about to write.

So those are 7 facts about my writing. I’m not sure if they are so interesting, but at least know you have an idea of how I work because all writers are curious about each other’s creative process.

How’s everyone else doing?

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15 thoughts on “All reading and no writing makes Nicole feel unproductive

  1. I have a deadline a year away and yet I find I’ve not embedded myself as deep as I need to be in this next book. Lawd! So, I’ve given myself another smack on my pea-head to distractions and excuses and Monday will get back to work. Once I am really into these characters, however, I barely lift my head – it’s when it feels the most wonderful. I think part of it is this is the 6th work that will be published (one was a novella but that’s still 30,000 words!) and I needed to take a breath. But “taking a breath” doesn’t meet deadlines or satisfy my need to clear out this jumbledy head 😀

    I write a lot as you do – on a laptop, and I like to finish a scene or chapter before I stop for the day, first half o f the day writing, etc. And, washing dishes is another great “hey!” idea-hit-uponer 😀

  2. I feel like I know more about you already ! 😉 I really love Scrivener, and I haven’t even really used any of it’s features. I never bothered to figure out what else it can do. I like that notes and writing can all be in one file and that the manuscript can be broken down into chapters and scenes since I tend to need to focus in small chunks at a time.

    Enjoy the reading!! I would totally feel guilty too, but just try to think of it as research. You know you can read sprint or plot sprint with us anytime 🙂 Have a great week!!

  3. I know what you mean, but reading is certainly the other best way to become a good writer. Plus, sometimes you need time for input, not output. Where, for example would you put blogging in that category? It’s not your novel – but it’s still writing. All things ‘words’ have their place, to hopefully end us up on the page with more experience. I say take it whichever way it comes.

  4. Does your Word doc ever corrupt on you? Any time I add tables and images (which I do a lot for my non-fiction), it’s hit or miss if it explodes. I’ve lost days of work. Now I back up everything to an OD, which never corrupts.

    My novels, though–no problems yet.

    Love the tidbits.

  5. I agree that writers like to hear about other writers’ processes. I enjoyed reading about yours! I use Scrivener now and love the way I can plot, sort, organize, and then compile my novel. I’m learning more and more about the software as I use it. I even wrote my first novel on Word but moved it over to Scrivener piece by piece to make it easier to edit. My two cents, but everyone has what works for them!

    Enjoy the reading. So glad you discovered your next project!

  6. No guilt, Nicole! Plotting, character sketching and just thinking about your next story is all work and progress. Reading is a good way to bridge the gap between one story and the next.
    I have to get some bugs out of my computer and then i’m downloading Scrivener. I’ve been writing in Word and it’s fine, but Scrivener has features that will be helpful in organizing and formatting. Have a great week!

  7. Plotting is writing, at least in my book. I wouldn’t feel behind or guilty because of this, it is part of the process. The Maass book you are reading was the first craft I read about 10 years ago and is what inspired me to start writing again. Enjoy it – full of incredible info.

    I use Scrivener and there is a bit of a learning curve at the beginning but once you learn the program there is nothing out there that I’ve seen that comes close to what it allows you to do. Everything for your project in one place and a very simple built in method for bringing your work to print. Highly versatile and if you decide to use something this is what I’d recommend. By the way, I started out on Word as well and still use it on occasion – but for letters and such, not fiction.

    Have a fantastic week, Nicole 🙂

  8. I like completing things when I’m writing too – i always feel like I’ll lose the “spirit” of the scene if I stop midway. I use Scrivener for writing and have found it makes a HUGE difference in my organization while I write, much easier to go “what was her childhood friend’s name?” and find the information.

  9. Another fan of Scrivener here – it’s much better than Word. I storyboard my novels and in Scrivener it’s so much easier to create a scene-by-scene outline that I can write straight into and hop around from scene to scene. Plus, I save the file to a plain text or a Word document as a backup at the end of each writing session, as well as Scrivener making its own backups. I’ve used it for non-fiction too, and that’s definitely an improvement.

  10. Congrats again on your completion of book 1 Nicole. Don’t worry. You’ll be in the writing groove soon, but maybe you’ll be like me and decide you don’t ever want to be in this in-between stories mode again. Having a number of stories in various stages allows me to always have that “in-writing” satisfaction for part of each writing day. Just a thought.

    BTW, your other commenters having me seriously considering Scrivener. Maybe that would be a great Mother’s Day present I could buy for myself. 🙂

  11. I feel the same. When I’m not writing (and this means when I’m revising or reading), I fell so unproductive.
    I’m glad you can still read and watch move as a reader and viewer. I can’t anymore. I keep pointing things out and being picky and seeing twists coming miles before it happens lol

  12. I tried the Scrivener thing for editing my last novel but I as I like to regularly convert my file to Kindle format to read on my Kindle Scrivener wasn’t very user friendly (I found I spent too much time formatting). Instead I use Storybook for outlining and then Word for writing. Storybook allows you to create chapters and link in scenes and characters and locations. I find that for me it works really well. Hope you havea good week ahead.

  13. Hi, Nicole! I don’t know if I would call reading and preparing story ideas/characters sheets slacking. There is a lot of thought that goes into the planning stage of a story, and it sounds like you have your hands full enough with things to do. You should join into #teamsprinty for a #planningsprint or a #readsprint. They’re all valid parts of the process.

    Have a great week. See you around the # hashtags.

  14. You’re doing some of my favorite writing work, Nicole — reading, prepping, and doing that “thinking stuff” that allows ideas to percolate and cook a little.

    Love the 7 facts! I know everyone has their preferred writing software, but I have had a wonderful experience using Scrivener, especially because I tend to write and edit scene by scene. Scrivener is great because it’s so easy to move things around, and also to use index cards for storyboarding. Then, of course, there’s having all your research in one spot, which I LOVE. 😀

    Anyway, hope you have a great week!

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