How To Beat Writers Block + The 1st Chapter of My Novel

In June 2016 I announced that I was going to write a novel in 30 days - my own little National Novel Writing Month. As the month came to a close I clocked in at around 26,000 words. Which, to be honest, isn't terrible. I was proud of my work and felt creativity flowing through my VEINS *fist in air*!

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But then I moved to Pennsylvania, got two jobs, had to readjust my life, was trying to maintain new friendships + a relationship, and hand-wash dishes (because apparently my father doesn't believe in using his dishwasher?!). 

So my novel went on the back burner, and eventually is collected dust in my Google Drive. 

Cue the gasps. 

Periodically I've tried working on my novel, only to feel uninspired and frustrated with my story and characters. With another set of changes in my life in November, I've only pushed it further back into oblivion. 

Until last week when Allison and I were at Target on a Sunday. 

We were picking up groceries and other things for the house, when I decided to stroll through the book isle. I found my favorite section (YA Fiction + Target Book Club Picks) and started flipping through them. I decided on Children Of Eden by Joey Graceffa, checked out, and took it home with me. 

I breezed through the book in a few days - the standard for me when I find a book that I enjoy, and was immediately compelled to write. 

But when I pulled up my novel, I was overwhelmed with options. I needed to edit the first seven chapters, develop my characters further, outline my plot, choose the climax, and build a fully functioning world. 

Sometimes writers block is just the state of being so overwhelmed that you don't know where to begin. Here are a few things I did to re-inspire myself & start writing again:

1// I used my Bullet Journal: You guys already know I'm a huge advocate for this. I use my BuJo for everything under the sun. In this instance I created a word count tracker, and a little booklet for planning the rest of my novel. I laid out my characters on one page, build a plot chart on another, am keeping track of my edits, and writing down the conflict that happens for all of my characters. Get creative with spreads and let your ideas for writing flow. 

2// I read. I already talked about this, but I think it's the main reason I started writing again. Reading another persons story just made me excited to keep working on my own. I didn't want to leave my characters frozen in time anymore. 

3// I asked for feedback: Once I was finished with Chapter one revisions, I let a friend read it to see how they felt about it. It helped me know what needed to change from an outside perspective, and showed me what people really enjoyed about my work. 

4// I gave myself mini tasks: Right now, I'm working on the first round of editing on chapters 1-7. I wanted to start here so I could have a solid foundation for the following chapters. I also update my plot chart every time I finish an edit, so I have an accurate outline of where the story is headed. 

5// I chose my climax: I decided on the exact moment that the story hits it's highest point, and am building around from there. 

6// I listened to music: Am I the only one who plays out scenes that will probably never happen while they're listening to music? I decided to revisit some of my favorite songs from the early 2000's and see where my imagination took me. Turns out, some of those imaginary scenes work great in my novel.

7// I put pressure on myself: I reached out to people on Facebook asking who would be interested in reading my work - and the response was great! It made me feel like what I am working on is important and interesting and something people want to read.

If you're interested in reading the first chapter of my novel, click [right here]! 

The biggest advice I can give you is to not beat yourself up about feeling stuck when you're writing. Sometime's we can write 10,000 words in one weekend, and sometime's we take a 3 month hiatus. Work at your own pace, and do whatever you can to stay inspired.