Starting the year on the write note

I’ve spoken before about this year being THE year for me to get serious about my writing, and so I thought it’d be timely to give you a little update on my progress so far. Here’s hoping that you’ll all be able to keep me accountable if I ever look like I’m slacking off … Β perhaps you’ve got a project that you need some encouragement with too? If so, I’m here to help with some positive barracking from the sideline or a helping hand where needed. After all, sharers are carers.

A few weeks ago I started easing back into the writing groove by setting myself a modest daily word count. From there I’ve increased my word count goal and shifted my focus towards ensuring I spend a certain amount of time writing each day (provided the baseline word count is still met), and it’s been working well for me. I want to treat writing more like a ‘job’ – so I need to make sure I turn up every day and put in a reasonable amount of time and effort. Most of the daily word count is going towards one main piece of fiction, but I’m also keeping my eye on a few other non-fiction side projects. However, rather than get too caught up with all the big picture stuff, I also want to make sure I take creative breaks from time to time … and that’s where I’m hoping the fortnightly Sparkapolooza briefs will help.

A line of deer

The first brief for the year was ‘Beyond the Square’, and if you’re interested you can find my (very) short story, ‘Lines of Nature’ overΒ here. There are also lots of other wonderful submissions to the brief, and you can have a look at those here. I like the idea of using these briefs as a writing exercise – with the intention of just doing and not being too concerned with over-polishing. I’ve never been much of a fan of diamonds anyway! Haha! πŸ™‚


  1. Valerie

    Ooh. Goodie. I hope you keep it up and it leads you to wonderful places.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Valerie – I hope so too … thanks for the encouragement! πŸ™‚

  2. Teresa

    Yay! It sounds like you’re really start to hit your writing groove and I love your ‘Beyond the Square’ short story.
    Can’t wait to see what else you create!

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Teresa – Thank goodness too, I say … it’s taken me long enough to get organised! πŸ™‚
      Thanks for reading (and liking) my very short story … it was most enjoyable to take some time out of the ‘big picture’ stuff. xx

  3. Gabrielle Bryden

    Good stuff Tracey. I am a firm believer in the writing regularly thingy – you can only release the muse when you are actually writing (though thinking has its place as well). Congrats on your short story πŸ™‚

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Gabrielle – Thank you. I totally agree, I think half the battle with succeeding at this writing thing is to show up and just do it, each and every day (and I do still allow plenty of time for day-dreaming). Things can only improve from there! πŸ™‚

  4. Linda from Heartfire At Home

    Good idea to get yourself on a bit of a schedule Tracey….. it’s prob hard in the beginning? But, you really start to get results from what I’ve read of others doing it.

    I need to do the same thing with my courses, especially my longer one. I haven’t written any part of it for months now and I need to get back on the horse and start writing it again. If I just did 30 mins a day I’d get an amazing amount done…. but I’ve been procrastinating and enjoying my holidays. When I start my new job I’m worried I’ll be a bit tired for a while, so I’m going to have to give myself a kick up the back-side and get going again.

    Do you mind if I ask….. what do you call a ‘modest’ daily word count? Do most people try and do around 500 a day for instance?….1000? More?

    Your story was wonderful, and the site is a great idea, I’ve never heard of it before. I might even give it a go myself down the track, but not until I get my courses done. Although, maybe if you get used to writing all sorts of things it opens up the gates somewhat and you find writing a bit easier in general. Hmmmmm.

    Well done on your ‘getting your groove back’!

    Linda. xox

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Linda – I’ve found having a loose kind of schedule has really helped. For the first few days I kind of fought against it a bit, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Although it can sometimes be tricky to fit all the other things in life around it … but I suppose that’s a bit of trial and error.

      I’m sure you’ll get yourself back into the rhythm with your courses. It is definitely that ‘starting’ part that is the hardest to overcome. But it is definitely hard to find the motivation when there’s relaxing and holidaying to be enjoyed!! Once you get your day job back on track, I’m sure you’ll find at least a little bit of time in your day to focus on your courses. It can be too overwhelming to try and do everything at once.

      Well, given that I technically am doing writing as my ‘day job’ at the moment, I started out with a 1,000 daily word count … then increased that to at least 1,500 … and now I do whatever I can each day (so long as I get beyond 1,500). Some days it is really hard and feels like I’m getting nowhere, but I just try to push through. If I had to fit a job around the writing though, that word count becomes a bit too hard to maintain … then I make it more about just ‘showing up’ for a certain amount of writing time. Does that make sense?

      I’m so glad you liked my little story … and I definitely think you should join in with the Sparkapolooza fun. I think being open to writing definitely makes the process easier the more you do it. πŸ™‚

      1. Linda from Heartfire At Home

        Oh well done! 1000 sounds maybe doable for me…. I just need to perhaps set aside a certain amount of time and go for it. Unfortunately I have yet to master the knack of not editing and/or correcting as I go. You know how ‘they’ say it’s best to just write and get everything down before you go back and edit so that you just let all your ideas flow out onto the page without stopping. I’ve tried many times to do that, but nope…. aint happening! I’m too pedantic and can’t let it go if I know it’s wrong or I could phrase it better – lol. I think maybe once I’m back at work and settled in I’ll try setting the alarm clock for 30 – 45 minutes or so and seeing how much I can write if I really focus during that time. Then….. longer if necessary.

        Thanks for the great advice and tips!

        Linda. xox

        1. tracey (Post author)

          Hi Linda – Yep, I think setting aside time is the way to go … even if you don’t always reach the word count, so long as you’ve been actively thinking or working in other ways on what you want to write, that definitely helps.

          That editing as you go thing is difficult to overcome, but I’ve just decided to ignore the bad stuff for now and get the story finished first … I read a quote recently by someone I can’t remember and it helps me, ‘You can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank page’. So true.

          I hope you find a writing structure and process that works best for you! πŸ™‚

  5. Accidentalwriter

    Hi Tracey. Sounds like you’ve got the plan and the motivation to make this work. More power to you. It would also appear that Sparkapolooza will provide an avenue where your creativity can just flow; and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a ‘rough diamond’! Looking forward to following your progress. Be kind to yourself if you feel the need to back off a little every now and then.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Accidentalwriter – Here’s hoping that motivation sticks around … thanks for the encouragement. Sparkapolooza is a nice change of pace from the bigger writing works I have in progress, and that can only help flip the creative switch I think. Thanks so much for your kind words and for your visit. πŸ™‚

  6. Kylie

    I think you are definitely going about this the “write” way! When I did my creative writing degree a few years ago it was stressed very strongly that writing is about the *practice* of writing. Getting a “flash” of inspiration is a nice idea – and we all experience it from time to time – but in reality that only way to truly “be” a writer is to write consistently every day, just like you are doing. They told us to just start writing – even if what we think we are writing is rubbish, keep going, because once you get all the “rubbish” stuff out you will find that you start to like what you are writing – you have to get the less-good stuff out first and then the great stuff will flow. One of my lecturers referred to this first part as “verbal vomiting”, which I have never forgotten!

    Thank you for introducing me to Sparkapolooza. I’d never heard of it before, but it is a wonderful project! I really enjoyed your story too! I hope you do keep contributing, because I’d love to read more of your stuff.

    Good luck with everything! xx

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Kylie – Well it’s nice to know that daily consistency in writing is recommended practice. It’s like so many things in life, isn’t it? Just having an idea is one thing, but doing something with it (which normally requires lots of hard work) is quite another.

      It’s reassuring to know that it’s normal to feel at times like what I’m writing is just ‘verbal vomit’ (love that terminology) … I think in the past I was more inclined to listen to that critical voice and just give in to it. This time though I just need to get the story down, and I’ll deal with the bad stuff later on. I’m sure I’m writing more words than are necessary, but it’s almost like I need to go the long way around to arrive at the right destination in the end … or something like that anyway! πŸ˜‰

      You’re very welcome for the Sparkapolooza introduction … while I’ve only kicked off with one brief so far, I think it will help keep me open to different ideas throughout the year. Thanks for taking the time to read my story – it’s so very much appreciated. πŸ™‚

  7. woolf

    i am lazy!
    i am copying the comment i left over at sparkapolooza here, and assure you : keep writing, keep the pace.

    “good pun!
    tracey, i find your style doesn’t differ too much from how you tackle words on your blog, so this is your voice, which is entertaining, and actual story telling.
    how did you enjoy the trees, sweet?

    i don’t know why it is, but i sense something colonial too, in your writing. don’t get me wrong, there’s a side to colonial which isn’t bad. (fine one to talk, me, being belgian….).

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Woolf – You’re not lazy, just efficient! πŸ™‚
      Thanks for the comments both here and there … I really enjoyed reading what you thought, and it’s interesting that you ‘hear’ a similar voice in my blogging and other writing. I’ve never thought about that before, and perhaps it’s something that is difficult to recognise in oneself.

      PS. I know what you mean about a ‘colonial’ style … that’s a lovely way of describe an underlying element in my writing which I can never quite elucidate. xx

  8. Jo

    I’m so excited to hear you’re writing and thanks for posting about Sparkapolooza.
    Does that measuring tape ribbon look familiar? =)

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Jo – Thanks for your lovely words … and I must send some thanks your way for Sparkapolooza. I look forward to contributing throughout the year.

      PS. Haha, yes I suspect you ‘may’ have seen that ribbon somewhere else … though I can’t remember quite where! πŸ˜‰

  9. sarah.goodtogether

    I totally need to establish something like this for myself. Thanks for the ideas and inspiration; Sparkapalooza is an exciting space.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Sarah – Thanks for dropping by! Sparkapolooza will hopefully help me loosen up my writing a bit this year – sometimes I can get bogged down in the ‘weight’ of the writing process.

      I really hope you find a perfect way to focus your ideas and stay inspired with all that you do … I figure we can all help each other out! πŸ™‚

  10. Gracia

    Hooray for you! And positive barracking is always very nice… count me in.

    1. tracey (Post author)

      Hi Gracia – Thanks so much for your support … here’s some positive barracking for you, ‘GOOOOOO Gracia!!’ …

      PS. I actually did a bit of a cheerleader number with pom-poms and everything along with that cheer, but it’s difficult to translate such an image into words. πŸ˜‰

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