Why You Shouldn't Be Ashamed to Take Your Time

This is a topic that I have been hesitant to write about simply because I really, really (really really really) struggle with this myself.
Back when I was sixteen and first writing Unperfected, I had this plan in my head to be published before I was eighteen. I was going to finish my book fast, publish it fast, and become a super popular teen author. It sounded so possible.
But, I quickly learned that while yes, it's possible to do that, it's not easy. I went through countless query letters followed by rejection letters and no responses. I went back to editing, edited a lot, rewrote, rewrote some more, got stuck a lot, rewrote some more . . . and now here we are four years later. And I'm still rewriting, and still figuring it out, and definitely not a teen author.
But that's okay. It took some time for me to accept that, but it's true. My writing journey has been an absolute mess and there's nothing wrong with that.

Unfortunately, there's this unspoken idea in the writing world that if a writer isn't writing and cranking out novels all the time, they're lazy or not good enough. And this is the farthest thing from true!
Writers do some pretty hard work. Writing a book is not easy! If you find yourself on top of the world writing chapter after chapter, and then suddenly get stuck and write nothing for three months, you are not alone. If it's taken you months and months to write just one chapter, you are not alone. If you are constantly asked questions like, "Is your book done yet?" or "When can I read your book?" or "You're STILL not done?" then you are definitely, positively, 100% not alone.
Because here's the truth: non-writers do not and can not fully understand what it's like to be a writer. They do not  always understand that writing takes time and should take time. They do not always understand that it's completely normal for a book to take years to complete.
A lot of writers have issues with family and friends constantly asking them about their writing because to them, a book is done when you type "the end." They don't always understand that sometimes scenes don't work or chapters don't fit or characters don't cooperate. They don't always  realize that there are a billion steps after "the end." But to the writer, hearing all of those constant questions can make them feel doubtful and insecure--even when the people asking questions don't mean to be negative.
I get asked when my book will be finished a lot and by a lot of different people, and it can be an incredibly stressful question despite the fact that most people ask it out of innocent curiosity. It can make me feel like I'm going too slow or that they are secretly judging me because my answer is always "I'm working on it."
But in reality, I know that writing is hard and it takes time. I know it's okay to take my time and make the necessary changes needed to better my book. I mean, it's a book. It's a big project!
Aside from the curiosity of non-writers, it's also very easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to the writers you see around you. Sometimes I see that a writer three years younger than me has already published two books. Sometimes I see writers my own age with agents and book deals. Sometimes I feel like I am a mess and my book is a mess and I should just give up because I will never catch up to all of the writers around me.
But yet again, I have to remind myself that I am my own writer. I am my own person with my own life and own story, and it's okay that it's taking me longer than other writers. Because the truth is, there will always be people ahead of you, and there will always be people behind you. The key is to remember that this is not a race.
We are all writers doing what we love and trying to find our place in the writing world. If there are people way ahead of you, that's okay. If there are people way behind you, that's okay. This is not a race, and there's no need to rush yourself and panic and try to jump ahead.
Here is the beauty of being an unpublished, agent-less writer: you can take as much time as you need. The only deadlines you have are the ones you set for yourself, if any at all. The opinions of other people do not matter! You are the creator of your work, and you will be the one to decide when you should be finished and how long it will take you to reach the finish line.
So do not be ashamed to spend weeks on one chapter if you need to. Do not be ashamed to spend months editing. Do not be ashamed to spend years on a book.
I have been writing Unperfected for four years, and I'm proud to say that. It is a story that has grown and blossomed into something I never thought it would be, and though it's taking me time, I know it isn't wasted time.
There will always be people asking me when my book will be done, and there will always be writers way ahead of me in the writing world--and that is completely okay. Do not let either of these things stress you out, make you panic, or pressure you to write faster. Because odds are if you try to force your book into existence, it will not be the extraordinary story you have in your head.

What about you? Do you get asked about your book a lot? Does it stress you out? Let me know in the comments below!
In other news, I have added a link to Z Publishing's website on the right sidebar. Just click on the gorgeous cover of Michigan's Best Emerging Poets to pre-order a copy of the book (Our books --> poetry --> Michigan's Best Emerging Poets) and get your hands on some amazing work from over 100 local authors, myself included. Your support means so, so much! (link also available in the Publications tab above)

Again, if you would like to purchase, please use the specific links available here on the blog. Thank you!