Maintaining Momentum

Building habits takes time. And repetition.

I’m in habit building mode, which probably means that last week was a bad time to take a vacation.

Too bad, I did it.

The kids had one of those “so much fun they didn’t realize how much they learned” vacations, visiting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Naval Academy, the B & O Railroad Museum, and the Ithaca Sciencenter, and getting to see their grandparents.

If you have been reading this blog regularly, you know that being at my parents’ house last week had a profound impact on my writing. (See here, here, here, and here, if you missed it.)

And now I am home.

I had to find a way to keep connected with my growth over the past week while also diving back into all of my mundane, school week activities and continuing to unpack the house. (Note to self, taking a vacation when the house is half unpacked breaks the unpacking momentum dramatically.)

So, this morning I got up, made my early morning cup of coffee, sat on my sofa looking at the tree out my window, and wrote, getting back into my routine. But, instead of writing a blog post then, which is what I had been doing earlier in the month, I changed it up.

I wrote the new prologue/introduction to my novel instead, capturing the emotional truths I had been discovering last week and putting them first. Much as I love this blog, and much as I am committed to finishing the month of March having posted every day, I chose to make the novel come first, knowing that tonight when I am tired, I would still be able to write this post, but I might not have had the courage to dive into the emotionally tougher material of my novel after a busy day.

I expect that the prologue is part of the iceberg of my story that I will cut eventually, but I needed to write it to give myself the framework for the next revision.

And, I made it my priority.

Are you letting your most important work take priority?


About Kate Arms-Roberts

Posted on March 19, 2012, in Blogging, Creativity, Daily Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I love this post!

    I realized today that I had become addicted to your daily posts. When one didn’t arrive in my email today I was sad – and I wondered if something had happened to bump you off the daily posts. How thrilling that it was the prologue for your novel. I agree, putting that ahead of the daily blogging was essential.

    I’m amazed at how much you’re integrating right now. Just moving is quite enough challenge to the sanity levels, much less a vacation with a passel of energetic kids, blogging every day and all the breakthroughs you’re having with your writing. So inspiring to witness.

    P.S. Yep, I’ve been putting my own writing first every day lately. Feels good!

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      I am touched that you missed me earlier today.

      And good for you, putting your writing first every day. It should feel good.


  2. I found the easiest way to get into my novel was to write the part I liked first. When that required background information to already be established (such as how the world worked), I just wrote the bare minimum as a news article instead of carefully crafted prose. It allowed me to get hooked so that the other, more mundane parts were easier to write and it allowed me to test drive my world. When you make a mistake creating the world, it is far easier to correct a news article on it than to dig through a story and finding all the references to the erroneous information.

    I can really feel the pain you are feeling while getting started—that awkward feeling where writing feels really weird, especially since at the end of the session, instead of something fixed or a person mended, you essentially have nothing and will have nothing for a long time until you get well into it. At the point when the characters start to live in your writing, instead of mostly in your head, that’s when you feel like you have something. But it is a very dark time before that happens. At least you don’t live in Silicon valley, where if you say you are writing it’s like, WTF, go do something useful.

    • Holly Lisle wrote somewhere that she doesn’t write the stuff she doesn’t want to write unless the story demands it, because if she doesn’t want to write it, you probably don’t want to read it. It is a great reminder of Elmore Leonard’s exhortation to skip the boring parts.

      BTW, When I worked in Silicon Valley, I was an actor/director.

  3. Did you do that full time or was in addition to a job? When I worked in tech, most of my jobs were 24×7. Work, play with kid 1hr, read to kid, faceplant, repeat. Eventually, burnout. Now it’s write, promote, publish, full time.. Guess I’m just too obsessive.

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      I was a lawyer – helping tech clients license intellectual property, usually as part of joint venture development deals and standards building. I should have been doing that 24×7, but I had to do the theatre as well to stay sane. I moved professionally into theatre administration just in time to be laid off when the area non-profits lost their funding from tech companies that suffered when the dot com bubble burst.

  4. The dot com bubble pop killed the dreams of so many. I tried starting 2 companies during the bust and the double dip just murdered them (along with my perfectionism). One of them, securities trading, was killed by the 2008 market. I was totally fed up with tech, trading, startups,… I wanted to do something that would last. I started writing full time. I decided that even if only 50 kids read my book, that at least changing those 50 minds would be more permanent than anything else I had done. A kind of immortality. Plus by really committing to writing, I had a chance to kill the perfectionism for all time (well I can hope anyway).

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      That all sounds terribly familiar to me. May we let our perfectionism go enough to touch the hearts of some readers. It sounds like you are already doing that by getting classes to beta read your books.

      Good for you.

  5. Wow, Kate, can I relate to your post! I struggled with severe depression for over a decade (I’m well now), and one of the things that pulled me through was creative writing and journaling. In fact, I found it helped so much that I’ve been leading a creative writing group for people with mood disorders for 13 years now. I also wrote a book on it — Writing through the Darkness: Easing Your Depression with Paper and Pen. These days I’m also working on digging deep as I work on a spiritual memoir that will look at my spiritual journey during and since my ill days. It’s great to hear how another with some similarities is doing this. Also, I’m doing it with one preschooler — I can’t imagine how you’re doing it with four young kids. Kudos!

    Thanks for the wonderful post. Also — we know each other slightly through MPUUC in Fremont. Allysson told me of your post this morning. Very best of luck on your book!


    • Kate Arms-Roberts


      Thanks for stopping by. It is fun seeing familiar faces in new contexts.

      I love that you have turned your dark experiences into hope for other people. Your new book, in particiular, sounds like one I already want to read. I’ll be keeping my eye out for it now that I know you are working on it.


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