It’s nearly the ninth anniversary of the day I started writing Skye Chase. I started at my desk, clean for once, in my childhood bedroom, painted three different colours, in a 50 page coil notebook of which my mom had used the first three pages one time several years before and then never again. I kept a diary back then, in which I wrote absolutely every single little detail down to the times I started and finished my entries and the temperature outside that day. I didn’t mention Skye Chase in my diary the day I started writing. I didn’t think I’d keep at it very long. I didn’t think it would be a part of my life beyond a blip on the radar one day when I was not quite fifteen and I was bored and had run out of books to read. I had a black gel pen that I was itching to use, but I had no idea what to use it for. I could have started drawing, but I wanted to write with it—really write with it—and so I did. I didn’t have a plan, a plot, or a character. I just started writing.

It was somewhere in the nine days between Halloween and my birthday, the first day I mentioned it in my diary. Some bright November day when there wasn’t any fighting in the house, a rarity, and the sun somehow found its way through my bedroom window, another rarity. Some stranger is living in that bedroom now. I hope they like it. I chose the colours myself. Bright yellow, lime green, purple-that-looks-blue-but-is-called-purple-and-somehow-came-out-pink-the-first-time-they-mixed-it-at-the-paint-store.

That day, that moment, when I put a pen to paper and started writing just to enjoy the feeling of writing, is one of the few fond memories I have of that period in my life. I’ve loved autumn since. Dead things and overcast skies have always seemed to inspire creation and life on paper. There was no pressure to be good at it. There was no plan to follow, I knew no rules and my imagination ran wild and free. I find it nearly impossible to read much of what I wrote from that first draft, but writing it was effortless.

It’s easy to look at Skye Chase now—sitting at just over 6000 words, ending abruptly on the first page of chapter two—and think I haven’t gotten very far in nine years. But those nine years are what made me as good as I am now. I cannot discount them and the lessons gained from them. And these 1.1 chapters are better with the experience I now have than the entirety of my first draft. Someday, when I’m going over it again, or writing the sequel or another book completely, it’ll be better than what I’m writing now.

So for you who are reading this, and are maybe thinking it’s taking you far too long to achieve the thing you’ve been working on, I want to say this:

Do not discount the value of the process. It will take as long as it needs to take, and in the end you’ll be better for it. It’ll be worth it. In the meantime, enjoy the process. Whether it means writing freely with a complete disregard for the rules, or making fun little mistakes that will never see the light of day. Love what you’re doing. Otherwise, what’s the point?