Bullet Journaling for Writers


Craft, Creativity, Inspiration, Organization, Uncategorized / Friday, December 29th, 2017

by Joanna Maciejewska

At some stage of my life, I gave up on buying diaries, calendars, and planners. They all had “wrong” layouts, not enough space or too much of it, and in the end I never really used them much. Then, a year and a half ago, I discovered bullet journaling and fell in love with it. I use it for my everyday life, but since writing is a part of it, I want it to be reflected in my “bujo”. If you are a bullet journal fan or looking into starting one, here are some ideas.

What is Bullet Journaling?

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, bullet journaling is fully customizable organization method – you can learn the basics here. You get to decide the layout, the sections, and the daily format of your entries. Bullet journaling also leaves a lot of space for lists and notes, like story ideas, interesting books to read, tracking your projects… You name it.

With such freedom, there are multiple ways to incorporate your writing goals and plans into it.

Yearly goals

As the time goes by, it’s easy to lose the sight of the bigger goals. I use my yearly goals section to track things that won’t be complete within a week or even a month.

I prefer empty boxes to fill (or cross out) in vs. the traditional box, and I learned to leave some space for notes (like the story’s or book’s title), so that I don’t get confused whether I already logged progress on something or not.

For bigger tasks, like novels, I break down the goal into smaller tasks. It’s more specific than “have a novel ready”. Depending on where I am with the project, I might use such sub-tasks like “finish the first draft”, “revise the first draft”, “implement beta readers’ comments”, “language and grammar edits”, “prepare a synopsis and a query letter”, but your choices would depend on your process.

As you can see, I prefer boxes to fill to the traditional “dots” to mark tasks.

Submissions

I write quite a few short stories each year and dutifully submit them to magazines. Some of them open only in the specific times of the year, so I use my Future Log section to track the submission windows I know of. This way, at glance, I know when I need to have my stories ready.
If your Future Log section gets too busy during the year, or you prefer to have it separate, you can easily create a separate page just for them.

Also, if you’re not a fan of the online submission trackers or they don’t meet your needs, you can dedicate a page or two to listing your submissions with the sent dates and responses.

bullet journaling - future log
My Future Log is still empty, but it will fill over the year.

Habit tracker

If you’re trying to build a habit of a daily (or at least regular writing), adding a writing-related section to your habit tracker might help.

List of your projects

If, like me, you work on multiple things at a time, such list might help you to keep track of them. This is different from your yearly goals that focuses on completion of certain stages of your prioritized projects. On this list you can put anything that you want to work on in the future, started working on, or temporarily put it on the back burner.

For me, it’s also a nice reminder of my own creativity on those days when I feel burnt out or idea-less. It’s nice to remember I have so many things going on, even if it’ll take me a while to finish them all.

2017 list. I’m about to promptly copy it into my 2018… and add a few more projects to it!

Other ideas

The strength of bullet journaling lies in endless possibilities. Do you want to track words written or hours edited? You can color in boxes or fill the page with colorful stars. You can have a section to note down particularly interesting dreams to keep you inspired or something down to Earth like a list of your writing-related income (complete with dates and payment method).

Ideas are countless.

Do you have any more? Or maybe you already have a bullet journal and use it for your writing projects?

And if instead of using colors for your bujo, you prefer to decorate it with stickers, check out 10 Minute Outfitters and JMM Designs for a variety of stickers designed with writers in mind!


Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science-fiction writer who was born in Poland, spent a little under a decade in Ireland, and now resides in Arizona. She had stories published in Polish magazines (“Nowa Fantastyka”, “Science-Fiction Fantasy i Horror”) and anthologies (Fabryka Słów, Replika, Solaris), and she also writes in English (“Fiction Vortex”, “Phantaxis”). You can find out more about her and her stories at melfka.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

2 Replies to “Bullet Journaling for Writers”

  1. I love your ideas – I always struggle to make time for writing (except during NaNoWriMo) and adding more writing-related sections to my bullet journal should definitely help. Also, I love how you’ve got an editing section in your habit tracker. So many times, I don’t get any real “writing” done but still work on a script or outline, so that would be a nice way of counting those.

    1. I’m glad you found inspiration in my post, Evelyne.
      I added the editing section to give myself a guilt trip: I always think I’ve been editing here and there, but the empty line in the tracker is like a reality check for me (and motivation to get on it).

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