Thick, sticky, disgusting, tiring mud.
For about four months, I wrote approximately one chapter per week of my suspense novel, SEVEN DUDES.
Which for most people doesn’t sound terrible. But for perfectionists like me, it feels like a snail’s pace.
Every day I sat down to write, I was deluged with fear and self doubt. I wondered if it’d ever get easier. Not a lot easier–I know that’s futile to wish for–but just a little bit easier. I kept thinking it would get better in time. Things would feel more natural. It seemed like I’d never reach that place.
Well, I finally reached a place where it felt natural. And not like torture.
But it took four months.
Which for most people doesn’t sound that long. But for perfectionists like me, it sounds like forever.
Two weeks ago, I wrote three chapters.
Last week, I wrote two chapters.
And this week, I wrote six–count ’em, SIX–chapters!
It took me almost four months to write nine chapters, but in the fifth month, I wrote eleven chapters. ELEVEN chapters in just three weeks! That brings me to a grand total of 20 chapters for Act 1 of my novel.
It took me four months to hit my stride on the SEVEN DUDES novel.
Looking back now from my place above the mudflats, it’s really not that long.
Frankly, I don’t know what changed. I think it was just developing a habit. Which is no small feat.
Habits, I’m realizing, are the keys to success.
I developed a habit of sitting down and feeling the fear and moving forward with my writing despite it.
Next time the writing process feels like slogging through mud again, I need to remember how I feel today.
Amazed. Happy. Grateful.
I need to remember to just keep going.
Butt in chair.
I’ll get there.
Peg Cheng is the author of The Contenders, a middle-grade novel centered on the question, can enemies become friends? She is currently writing another novel that is a re-imagining of the Snow White fairy tale set in 1980s Seattle. Peg is also the founder of Prelaw Guru, a law school application consulting company, and the author of The No B.S. Guides for prelaw students.